Native Americans

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Generations ago, the American Indian Osage tribe was compelled to move. Not for the first time, white settlers pushed them off their land in the 1800s. They made their new home in a rocky, infertile area in northeast Oklahoma in hopes that settlers would finally leave them alone.

As it turned out, the land they had chosen was rich in oil, and in the early 20th century, members of the tribe became spectacularly wealthy. They bought cars and built mansions; they made so much oil money that the government began appointing white guardians to "help" them spend it.

In Indian Country, a gym membership is not a cultural norm and the incidence of heart disease and obesity are high. Native Americans are 60 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites. The Coeur D'Alene tribe, whose headquarters is in northern Idaho, is trying to combat the problem by incorporating culture into fitness programs.

On the Navajo Nation, kids with the most severe developmental disabilities attend a school called Saint Michael's Association for Special Education.

Dameon David, 8, is waking up from a nap in his classroom. He has come to the school in northeastern Arizona for four years. He has cerebral palsy, seizures and scoliosis. His mom, Felencia Woodie, picks him up from a bed with Superman sheets.

In comics and graphic novels, Native American characters aren't usually very prominent. They're often sidekicks — or worse. But a new publisher focused exclusively on Native writers and artists is changing that. Called Native Realities, the company just released the reboot of the first all-Native superhero comic.

The town of Whiteclay, Neb., has a population of 14 people. Its four liquor stores sell 4 million cans of beer each year, mostly to residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is officially dry and right across the state line.

The effort to close the Whiteclay stores has spanned decades. But there's an assault on two fronts, including one from a minister who's looking to buy the stores.

The Osage Nation has voted to change the definition of marriage in an election that drew an overwhelming number of absentee ballots.

The tribe will now define marriage as a union between "two persons" rather than "a man and a woman."

More than 1,100 people sent in absentee ballots but only 347 people showed up for onsite balloting during a two-day early voting period and on Monday, the actual election day.

Flickr / NHS Employers

A Republican plan to overhaul the nation's health care system shows health care could become unaffordable for many poor Oklahomans and the state could be forced to subsidize health care costs for Native Americans, according to an early analysis of the plan prepared for Gov. Mary Fallin.

A document obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press shows state health officials also project the proposed new law would result in the state immediately losing $9.3 million in public health funding for programs such as immunizations and chronic disease funding.

Members of American Indian tribes, indigenous communities and their supporters are demonstrating today in Washington, D.C., calling on the Trump administration to meet with tribal leaders and protesting the construction of the nearly complete Dakota Access Pipeline.

The protest is partly led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been battling the federal government for more than a year over an oil pipeline that members say endangers their drinking water and has destroyed sacred sites in North Dakota.

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