Reproductive Justice: The Politics of Health Care for Native American Women

Reproductive Justice: The Politics of Health Care for Native American Women

Reproductive Justice: The Politics of Health Care for Native American Women

Reproductive Justice: The Politics of Health Care for Native American Women

Synopsis

In Reproductive Justice, sociologist Barbara Gurr provides the first analysis of Native American women's reproductive healthcare and offers a sustained consideration of the movement for reproductive justice in the United States.
The book examines the reproductive healthcare experiences on Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota--where Gurr herself lived for more than a year. Gurr paints an insightful portrait of the Indian Health Service (IHS)--the federal agency tasked with providing culturally appropriate, adequate healthcare to Native Americans--shedding much-needed light on Native American women's efforts to obtain prenatal care, access to contraception, abortion services, and access to care after sexual assault. Reproductive Justice goes beyond this local story to look more broadly at how race, gender, sex, sexuality, class, and nation inform the ways in which the government understands reproductive healthcare and organizes the delivery of this care. It reveals why the basic experience of reproductive healthcare for most Americans is so different--and better--than for Native American women in general, and women in reservation communities particularly. Finally, Gurr outlines the strengths that these communities can bring to the creation of their own reproductive justice, and considers the role of IHS in fostering these strengths as it moves forward in partnership with Native nations.
Reproductive Justice offers a respectful and informed analysis of the stories Native American women have to tell about their bodies, their lives, and their communities.

Excerpt

In Lako’l wicoh’an (the Lakota way of being in the world), important things— prayers, ceremonies, the telling of stories, and the sharing of lessons—are marked with the phrase mitakuye oyasin. This phrase, which is commonly translated in English as “all my relations” or “we are all related,” carries profound significance for Lakota and other Native people, reminding those who are gathered that all things are in relationship, and that our relationships define who we are and what our purposes might be. Our relationships carry responsibilities, sometimes joyful, sometimes challenging, sometimes tedious. Our relationships contour our lives in a thousand different ways.

The research discussed in this book emerged from my relationships in Indian Country, and from the often joyful, often challenging responsibilities of these relationships. I went to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota Oyate (People, or Nation) in South Dakota for the first time in the summer of 1999 to build wheelchair ramps with a service organization. In the year following, I returned to the reservation several times, meeting people, attending ceremonies and rodeos, and learning. My second trip there took me to the Rosebud Wacipi (dance, or pow-wow) and Rodeo; my third to the Black Hills Pow-wow in Rapid City, and to Emma, the director of the Badlands Bombing Range Recovery Project. On my fourth trip, I was invited to ride in the final day of the Sitanka Wokiksuye, the Bigfoot Memorial Ride held every year to remember and honor those ancestors killed at the Massacre of Wounded Knee in 1890.

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