Social Solutions to Poverty:
America's Struggle to Build a Just Society
A book by Scott Myers-Lipton


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 Traditional Indigenous Solutions




The solution to Indian poverty often highlighted in the media is the development of casinos. Since most reservation land is barren and isolated,

Native Americans have had to develop alternative development strategies to

survive, and casinos provide one of these approaches. However, an approach

that receives almost no attention from the media but is extremely important

to the future of the indigenous people is the “traditionalist” perspective,

which attempts to apply the time-honored ways of the ancestors to today’s

issues. Two of these traditionalists are Mary and Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone (Newe) elders who have for forty years led the resistance to the U.S. government’s attempt to purchase 24 million acres (two-thirds of Nevada and

parts of California, Utah, and Wyoming), which was never legally ceded.


The government has offered a onetime payment of $20,000 to each of the 6,000

Western Shoshone, using the 1872 rate of 15 cents an acre to calculate the

settlement. The Dann sisters and the Western Shoshone leadership have refused the money, arguing that they want a land base to practice traditional cultural and spiritual practices, and to be economically self-sustaining. Describing the struggle, Carrie Dann states, “This has always been about the land, our rights

to continue to use and occupy our lands for the benefit of our families and

the future generations.” Not surprisingly, the cultural and spiritual practices

of the Western Shoshone are egalitarian.

Myers-Lipton, p. 272

(Excerpted from “Social Solutions to Poverty” © Paradigm Publishers 2006)


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