The Indigenous peoples living in the urban Bismarck-Mandan area
North Dakota is home to five federally recognized Tribes: the Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes), the Spirit Lake Nation, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation. The largest urban Native American population of North Dakota lives in the Bismarck metropolitan area.
Though widely diverse, with different beliefs, languages, and rich cultures, one of the common traits of American Indigenous Peoples is that collectivism is an essential aspect of identity.
Before the first contact with European settlers, the Indigenous Population of the Americas was around 60 million, according to estimates. A century later, the period of the Great Dying took about 90% of those lives to genocide by warfare, infectious diseases, forced removal, enslavement, imprisonment and boarding schools. Many of these traumatic events resonated and changed guise in the following centuries. Though the 60s and 70s of the 20th century saw the rise of Native American activism, today, the Indigenous Peoples of North America are still very disproportionately disadvantaged.
Historical Trauma & Contentious Relationship
Scientists from the field of epigenetics have uncovered how our genes carry memories of trauma experienced by our ancestors and how that impacts our mode of being. The effects of historically traumatic events are transmitted intergenerationally, meaning youth continue to identify emotionally with their elders' suffering. This cumulative emotional and psychological harm from consecutive traumatic events perpetrated on a community over generations takes a tremendous toll. Compounded with other factors, this has meant the rates of mental health problems, substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide and attachment disorders are disproportionately higher for Native Americans than for the rest of the US population. Moreover, differences in worldviews and concepts of development still make for very contentious relationships between Natives and non-Natives. Land and natural resource issues are only two of the many factors of contention between Indigenous peoples and settlers.
"Across metrics of economic well-being, Native Americans are disproportionately underserved, economically vulnerable and limited in their access pathways to building wealth," according to this report by the Joint Economic Committee. "These long-standing inequities have left Native communities much more vulnerable than their counterparts to the negative impact of economic shocks and public health crises."
The Indigenous population living in metropolitan areas faces many barriers to accessing services and achieving housing stability. Not only very few housing services are intended for Indigenous peoples in urban areas, but because of a lack of cultural competence by social services staff who often fail to deliver effective and culturally respectful work, Indigenous peoples living in urban areas generally feel a significant distrust of these agencies.