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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 17, 2013 at 5:37 PM

American Indians are moving to cities

Seattle’s diverse Indian population has diverse needs

A mural painted by children at the Little Earth of United Tribes housing complex in Minneapolis, March 5, 2013. More than seven in 10 Native Americans now live in metropolitan areas, according to census data, and many are finding urban life difficult. (Nicole Bengiveno / The New York Times)

A mural painted by children at the Little Earth of United Tribes housing complex in Minneapolis, March 5, 2013. More than seven in 10 Native Americans now live in metropolitan areas, according to census data, and many are finding urban life difficult. (Nicole Bengiveno / The New York Times)

Seattle is more typical of the urban Indian experience [“Reservation-system questions raised as Indians head for cities,” front page, April 14]. Unlike Minneapolis, with its small geographic enclave where Indians settled in the 1950s, Seattle Indians live everywhere in the greater metropolitan area. Poverty and unemployment are high and educational attainment is worse than in other groups.Urban Indians are highly mobile. Homelessness is not uncommon. All of this makes our challenge of improving health difficult.

Seattle has a diverse Indian population. For example, we have patients from over 160 federally recognized tribes and others from terminated and state-recognized tribes from across the country.

The Constitution, laws, Supreme Court decisions, executive orders and treaties have not been effective instruments for fulfilling the promises the federal government made to Indians, particularly urban Indians.

Ralph Forquera, Seattle Indian Health Board, executive director, Seattle

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