James Anaya, a United Nations fact-finder, has learned that vibrant Indian cultures are often invisible in the United States mainstream and that problems of Indians today seem trivial to U.S. citizens who tend to believe Natives and Native issues exist only in the distant past.
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On a personal note that illustrated the here-and-now of Native concerns, Anaya said he’d received a letter from a 15-year-old student attending high school near the Rosebud Sioux (Sicangu Lakota) Reservation in South Dakota.
“Life here is very hand-to-mouth,” the student wrote. “I’m going to be honest with you—sometimes I don’t eat. I’ve never told anyone this before, not even my mom, but I don’t eat sometimes because I feel bad about making my mom buy food that I know is expensive.
“And you know what? Life is hard enough for my mom, so I will probably never tell her.”
Anaya gave the Thomson Visitor Lecture as part of the 2012-2013 Speaker Series of the American Indian Law Program.