Why Native Youth Drop Out of School

By Jorge, 10th grade

Jorge, at Zion National Park, learns to rappel.

Jorge, at Zion National Park, learns to rappel.

For the past ten years my family has moved around from apartment to apartment, staying with whichever family member had room to house us. This means that we often had to change schools and make new friends.  In trying to figure out why we moved so often, I realized that none of my family had finished high school.

Not finishing high school seemed to make it difficult for everyone to find steady jobs. I now understand that not finishing school would make my life more difficult. Most Native youth don’t get enough support from family or others. Native youth drop out of school because they are unstable emotionally, academically, and financially.

The Importance of Family Support

Most Native youth don’t get the support they need from families or others, and some families don’t encourage their kids. The Pygmalion effect helps explain this: people tend to perform at the level that others expect of them. Some families don’t expect their children to finish or go to school. Therefore, their kids don’t finish.

Most Native youth on the reservation don’t have an education because their parent(s) don’t put any effort into encouraging them to go. I have four older sisters that have not finished school because of lack of support and encouragement. They would have had a better lifestyle if they would have finished school. Therefore, my sisters would have lived up to their potential and would have had a good and stable life. Most kids don’t get enough support or encouragement from their family.

People tend to perform at the level that others expect of them.

Homelessness Gets in the Way of Success

Most native families don’t have a stable home for their kids to finish school. A report by the Department of Housing and the Urban Development  estimates that between 42,000 and 85,000 Native people don’t have their own home or apartment on reservations. In other words, there are thousands of homeless Native youth. Whenever a kid a moves in with a relative or friend, it makes it harder for them to get to school or to start a new school. 

One difficulty with staying in a crowded house is that concentrating on school work feels impossible. This makes it hard to stay focused on school. Usually, when the house or apartment is crowded, it is harder to get homework done and kids will eventually start to get behind in school. I was close to being a drop-out because of the struggle I had and problems I put myself in. I lived in an unstable home because problems my family had. Therefore, I know how difficult it is for Native youth to finish school without a stable home/lifestyle.


When Drugs Take Over Your Life

Torri, 10th grade

Torri, center, is wearing her traditional regalia during Native Heritage week.

Torri, center, is wearing her traditional regalia during Native Heritage week.

Do you know anyone who had potential and ruined it with drugs? My math teacher almost ruined his life with drugs. He told us what happens when drugs take over your life.

My math teacher (a veteran who likes to tell us stories to teach us lessons) told us the story of how when he got out of the army he turned to drugs and alcohol. He said, “Drugs distract you from reality.” He had goals after the army, but once he realized that drugs weren’t helping him achieve his goals, he quit using them. Now he’s a math teacher.

Drugs are bad for Native Americans because they contribute to poverty, cause health problems, and ruin Native American lives.

Drug Use Contributes to Suicide and Poverty

Drug use by Native American youth contributes to the cycle of poverty. According to a report for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 36% of the Native Americans or Alaska Natives who died by suicide had legal intoxication rates. Another study cited in the same paper, “In a small 2007–2010 studyof White Mountain Apacheyouthages 15-24, 64% were “drunk or high” when they died by suicide, 75.7% were “drunk or high” during a suicide attempt, and 49.4% during suicidal ideation.” Suicides don’t just have an emotional toll on the family, either. Familes suffer financially as well.

Depression and substance abuse combine to form a vicious cycle that leads to suicide. According to DrugAbuse.com, “Using drugs impairs decision-making abilities and physically impairs people. This is a deadly concoction when on the job. In fact, 10-20% of American workers who die at work have a positive result when tested for drugs or alcohol.”  In other words, if you start using drugs and alcohol, you won’t live up to your full work potential. All in all, drugs don’t help you with a job, or your future dreams. Drugs contribute to poverty and suicide. 

When Drugs Take Over Your Life, They Take Over Your Family’s Life, Too

Drugs can ruin Native American families. According to Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, Inc. “Every single person in an addict’s immediate family (and at times extended family) is affected in some way by the individual’s substance abuse. Addiction impacts a family’s finances, physical health and psychological wellbeing.”  When parents use drugs, their children will likely follow in their footsteps.

Addiction would be more likely because the relatives and other family members that also had it in the past. So you would have to suffer from that as well. It also states in casapalmera.com, “Drug addiction runs through families, perhaps in part for genetic reasons, and in part due to environmental influence. If you have a blood relative who is addicted, especially a parent or full sibling, you have a higher risk for drug addiction.” In short, drugs can ruin families because drugs come with a cost of damage to families. Also, a family history of drug addiction puts Native youth at risk for becoming addicted, too. Families could break apart because of drugs. 

The Health Risks of Drug Use

Torri-7103.jpg

Drugs will derail our dreams

You could have health problems because of drugs or you could die. An article from americanaddictioncenters.com says, “People who struggle with addiction spend a great deal of their time intoxicated, on drugs, or trying to acquire more drugs; this means that they often neglect oral hygiene because they cannot afford a dentist or they simply stop caring about brushing their teeth.” You could have gum problems, which puts you at risk for heart disease. So, if you don’t die from the drugs, you could die from heart disease because the drugs make you stop caring for yourself. In conclusion drugs can cause gum problems, as well as heart and lung disease or worse.

Native American youth may not realize how bad drugs are for them. Drugs will derail our dreams by making it difficult for us to finish school or hold a job. Drug use can increase the chances that will take our own lives. Drugs become addicting and could ruin families as well. Drugs could also give you other health problems. You could ruin your gums or increase your risk of heart and lung disease. 

In conclusion, drugs are bad for you because they won’t give you a job, they make it more likely that you’ll commit suicide, they become addictive, ruin families, and give you health problems.

Haiku Poetry

By Adrienna , 12th grade

Adrienna rappelling in Zion National Park.

Adrienna rappelling in Zion National Park.

Last year as part of our English class we learned how to write different forms of poetry. Haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry, often talks about things found in nature. We went outside for inspiration in writing our haiku poems.

A haiku poem has five syllables in the first and third lines, and seven syllables in the second line. It doesn’t have to rhyme, which makes it easy to write.

A Perfect Day

Sun is shining bright 

Cold wind blowing on my face

A nice perfect day 

Tree in the Ground 

The tree is so green

With the bark brown as chocolate

Placed firm in the ground

The Best Place to Be

Very colorful 

A playground filled with children

The best place to be