The evidence keeps mounting that American Indian children in Montana start life at a disadvantage and have a hard time catching up. To some extent that is true for all kids in this state. As the latest KIDS COUNT data report recently reported the well-being ranking for Montana’s children dropped to 31st in the country, compared to last year’s reported ranking of 28th. But as troubling as that is, the situation is even worse for American Indian children in Montana. Last March, the same organization released a report called Race for Results, which included a well-being index score by ethnicity and showed that for American Indian children in Montana, our state ranked third to last, coming in ahead of only North Dakota and South Dakota.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the other scores from this report:
The “Race for Results” report clearly shows that opportunity in our state is not as accessible for American Indian children as it is for others. State, local, and federal policies contribute to this problem, holding back Indian Country for generations. It is time for legislators and agency directors to assess the role that our state policies play in continuing this inequity and make the changes that are needed. Today, American Indian children face a world where the odds are stacked against them. Right out of the chute, they are faced with significantly more obstacles to prosperity than other children in our state. American Indian children in Montana deserve better. They deserve to start the race at the same place as other children.
MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.