Staggering is the only word that adequately describes the statistics most Native American youth face… double, triple, and even four times higher than the national averages in suicide, abuse, homelessness, school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, sex trafficking, illiteracy, and learning deficits related to in utero exposure to alcohol and other drugs.

Imagine these realities in addition to living conditions such as a trailer home built for five housing upwards of 17 people, without heat, electricity, indoor plumbing, or running water, and extreme food poverty. Female students often rely on t-shirts for sanitary supplies and baby wipes for cleanliness. Gangs are pervasive and unfortunately offer the only means of escape from the geographical isolation and near total absence of youth-related activities beyond high school sports. Unemployment rates hover at 80%, further underscoring how desperately impossible it seems to break the cycle of poverty. So many of these teens respond in desperation, having no idea what it means to dream or consider options that allow them an opportunity to break the cycles that have become so familiar.

We are often asked, “Well, don’t they get casino money?” The answer is yes, but we must add that yearly incomes are between $3,600 and $7,200. Yes, per YEAR. The casino, an hour and a half from any city outside of the reservation, in our opinion, exploits the very people that it was created to help. They have all the same expenses for maintaining a household that you and I do, and their limited access to tribal support or treaty supported governmental disbursements are inadequate. Geographical isolation and ongoing extreme prejudice off the reservation turn back even the bravest who dare to attempt a life beyond these borders. Parents are reluctant to allow their kids off the reservation – sharing a recent story of one group of kids that had beer poured on them at a public sporting event.

It would be easy to continue with all the seemingly impossible realities that have to be told of life on the Rez. Too easy. But there is also hope. And that is where we like to dwell the most. There are ambitious, committed Native American leaders and caregivers who Unbroken Circle Project sees as pivotal to the success of Native American youth. They are adults (even some teenagers) who are in the trenches, fighting every single day to show hope to youth, to guide them towards the right path, and who have dedicated themselves, laying brokenness aside, in pursuit of helping youth realize their potential and their value as human beings.

It is with these people and organizations that Unbroken Circle Project has determined to come alongside, to support and encourage their efforts to minimize these barriers that Native American youth face. With the help of our supporters, we can provide items from school supplies to sleeping bags. Every effort is measured against how it will help meet the goal of enabling youth to better access and achieve their life and educational goals. In our efforts to be good stewards of the benevolence extended to Unbroken Circle Project, we believe this will provide the most tangible measure of the success of our vision.

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