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ON THE GROUND

‘A matter of life and death’: Native Americans speak out about the US elections

'A matter of life and death': Native American voices on the US presidential election
'A matter of life and death': Native American voices on the US presidential election © Sam Ball
Text by: Sam BALL
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Video by: Sam BALL
2 min

In the second of our special reports looking at the forgotten voters of the US election, we travel to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Oglala Lakota tribe, beset by unemployment, poverty and alcohol addiction. For many here, voting is low on the list of priorities, though some are trying to change that.

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The vast reservation, deep in the South Dakota Badlands, is currently on lockdown amid a surge of Covid-19 cases and no outsiders are allowed in.

The health crisis is just the latest problem facing the reservation, where unemployment is around 80 percent and poverty and alcohol addiction are rife.

A number of its current and former residents can be found in nearby Rapid City, including at the Hope Center, which helps the homeless and poor, and where around 85 percent of those using its services are Native American.

"I'm homeless out here. I walk around all day looking where they have meals here for homeless people," Edna, a Native American at the Hope Center, told FRANCE 24. "So I walk around and try to make it to that place where they have a meal."

"I don't think I will ever vote. I never have and I don't… And maybe I won't ever vote," she said.

Click on the video player above to watch the full report.

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