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How Inflation Is Impacting Native Communities

Posted By BrittanyLCerny August 18th, 2022 Last Updated on: August 18th, 2022

It's no secret that inflation has been taking its toll on American society as a whole. But while everyone feels the impact of rising prices, some communities are hit harder than others, namely Indigenous communities.

Increasing gas and food prices, as well as other essentials, are impacting many Native communities in a way like never before, causing prior economic problems to worsen. Let's look at how inflation is affecting Native Americans and some steps being taken to mitigate the impact.

The problem 

Economists are now on a roll, interpreting what is close to another financial crisis. Inflation numbers are causing many to wonder if we’re about to witness another recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research officially declares recessions as “a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months.” And that means less spending if possible, but more likely an increase in dipping into savings and sinking into more credit card debt. 



But this burden on the wallet isn’t felt equally among groups of people. 

No other racial or ethnic group in the country feels as much financial strain as Native Americans. That's according to a national poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It found that inflation has caused 69 percent of Native Americans significant financial problems.

A lot of people have some very difficult choices to make. 

Supporting friends and family isn’t as easy right now, and that’s what being Native is all about. Grocery trips are less frequent, which typically means less food in the house; this also means people are driving less due to the hefty prices at the pump. Instead of buying what they want, they're now forced to focus on what they need at a particular moment.

A few solutions

The high inflation rate in Native communities is a significant issue that requires attention. There are many potential solutions to this problem, but it will take a concerted effort on behalf of everyone involved to make a difference. While no single person or group can change the trajectory of inflation, things are happening to help decrease the burden. 

One example is the Inflation Reduction Act, which the Senate recently passed and will invest money in tribal communities. This act includes:

  • $272.5 million to Native communities for climate resilience and adaptation, including;
    • $25 million in targeted climate resilience funding to the Native Hawaiian community for the first time ever;
    • $12.5 million to mitigate drought impacts for Tribes; and
    • $10 million for Tribal fish hatcheries;

  • $150 million for Tribal home electrification;

  • $75 million for loans to Tribes for energy development; and

  • A tenfold increase (from $2 billion to $20 billion) in loan guarantees for Tribal energy development.

This act is a start, at least.



Conclusion

Inflation has had a profound impact on Native Americans and their communities.

The cost of living has increased, while the availability of jobs and resources has decreased. This has made it increasingly difficult for Native Americans to thrive. Native Americans have persevered through centuries of discrimination and oppression despite these challenges.

We must continue to support them as they fight for their rights and dignity.






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