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Jay Winter Nightwolf

Source: Ron Thompson / Radio One Digital

I was listening to a radio show hosted by Native American Jay Winter Nightwolf (on WOL Sundays at 6pm). It was Christmas Day. On the show, Jay talked about a letter he received from an eleven-year-old girl named Laura, who stayed on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. Out of respect, all the children call elders either grandpa or grandma. In the letter Laura said, “grandpa, can you ask Santa to send me my own toothbrush so that I don’t have to share? And my own toothpaste?” Jay Winter Nightwolf began to discuss how close we all are to living on that edge of reality: Where you can go from having everything, to almost nothing at all.

The situation on the Indian reservation in South Dakota is not an isolated incident. All across this country: the rising cost of living; higher gas prices; increased food prices; childcare expenses, are making it more difficult to maintain our current way of life. Jay went on to say, most of us are just one tragic incident away from living in a shelter or worse, on the street.

The American Indian and Alaska Native poverty rate is about 50 percent in Rapid City, S.D., and about 30 percent in five other cities in the U.S. click here   In 2019, the share of Blacks in poverty was 1.8 times greater than their share among the general population. click here   Blacks represent 13.2% of the total population in the U.S., but 23.8% of the Poverty population. The share of Hispanics in poverty was 1.5 times more than their share in the general population. Hispanics comprised 18.7% of the total population, but 28% of the population in poverty.

There are shelters all over the greater Washington metro area filled with people who had that one misstep; either no fault of their own or brought on by the above-mentioned conditions. They may still dress like you are me; they just don’t have a place to call home. We may even drive by or walk past someone near a store asking if you can help them out with a little change. Most of us, will continue to walk past them and continue your way. We can all help. We must find a way.


* American Indian and Alaska Native Poverty Rate for select cities (

** Poverty Rates for Blacks and Hispanics Reached Historic Lows in 2019 (



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