By Jocelyn Radeny
Homelessness has become one of the biggest menaces that has hit quite a good number in the USA. What most of us do not know is that one of the causes of homelessness is privatization of Indigenous land. Years back, people would live in places of their choice without having to worry about human displacement or eviction. Many places in America have been home to different Native Nations over time. However, many Indigenous people no longer live on lands to which they have ancestral ties. They have been forced to move, making space for greedy and selfish private developers who are only concerned with making their lives better. Indigenous land that could be beneficial to generations and generations is now owned by a few.
Skyscrapers, industries and private offices stand on land that could have been used for government projects to house the huge number of homeless people who have nowhere to go. There are people that call the shots inside the government, one way or the other, and trying to go against their word leads to serious repercussions. Court cases against land-grabs generally find against the common citizen, or take so long that those fighting back become frustrated and tired. This is a clear indication that the legal system has also been compromised. It does not have the common citizen’s interest at heart anymore, but is focused rather on what brings money to the pockets of those in power.
It’s so sad that as a country, we do not have leaders who can fight for the sake of suffering people without being compromised. These resettlements from Indigenous land were organized by people with the mindset of extracting resources, with an aim of making the rich richer. Money has proved to be the No. 1 influential factor in matters that involve important decision-making, favoring the rich few. Indigenous land on which we could build cheap housing and healthcare institutions for almost every American citizen is now owned and managed by a few rich souls, while the proceeds benefit only them. This is very evident by the number of homeless people on the streets of American cities currently, and the number is still on the rise. Who will help us, as people who lost their land? Land that should be housing and feeding us and our descendants for generations.
The effects of these selfish acts have been felt over the years, and like a domino effect it has grown, up to this moment. Trauma and sad reality hits us every morning. A wave of bitterness every time we read the history of our ancestors. The reality of the large areas of land that were owned by our ancestors until they were violently chased out, some at gunpoint. Take a visit even to the rural areas of some states and you’ll find individuals who possess large acres of land. Yes, some may be inherited, but you’ll find quite a number that people were evicted from with little or no compensation at all.
The big question is, what can be done to at least try to resolve this enormous issue? My thoughts are, The American government needs to come up with a plan to identify the descendants of those chased out of their Indigenous lands and compensate us fairly with reparations. This will definitely help provide homes to a good number of the homeless people on the streets. The government should also work on reclaiming some of the land acquired forcefully, and develop government projects that are aimed at housing the homeless. I believe that, putting into consideration the resources at the government’s disposal, we should not have people on the streets. We should not be sleeping in the cold, hungry.