A Lakota student at Yale explores the challenges faced by Native American young people blighted by alarmingly high rates of alcohol abuse, suicide and unemployment.
Jacob Rosales, a 20-year-old student at Yale, takes a closer look at some of the varied challenges facing Native American young people today. With alarmingly high rates of alcohol abuse, suicide and unemployment, Jacob delves behind the stats to reveal human stories of both suffering and hope.
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is a tough place to grow up, being one of the poorest and most underdeveloped places in the US. It is often likened to the developing world. Graduating from university remains nothing more than a dream for the thousands of young people like Rosales, who call it home. Indeed, only one in every 10 Native Americans in the country attain a bachelors degree. Yet Jacob was offered a place at seven of the eight Ivy league universities in the country when he finished high school.
Returning home for break, Jacob meets Yvonne ‘Tiny’ DeCory, who comes face to face with the obstacles facing Native youth every day. A suicide epidemic has grabbed the headlines in recent years and Yvonne and her team at the Bear Project have helped many young people turn their lives around. Eighteen year old Sky opens up to Jacob on why he almost took his own life, before seeking Tiny’s help.
As the Cheyenne River Youth Project are holding a celebration to honour their young people, Rosales reflects on the importance of his own Lakota culture, and Jeremy Fields from Oklahoma explains why he travels around the continent teaching Native students about historical trauma.
Presenter: Jacob Rosales
Producer: Neil Kanwal
Executive Producer: Peter Shevlin
(Photo: Jacob Rosales at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation)