Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Pure Poverty: 'If you don't have money, you don't have health care'


— This is the second in a series of stories examining childhood health on the Wind River Indian Reservation, as part of our reader-supported Generation of Hope project. See below the story for more details. — Ed

Thirteen teenagers crowded a small, unadorned stage in the Wind River Hotel and Casino ballroom in early June. They wore bright white shirts, but the tees proved flimsy armor in the expectant gaze of 100 adult faces. Kids fidgeted, stared at the floor and cast about self-consciously for places to put their hands. When their adult collaborators finally assumed their positions and took up their scripts, the young people retreated to seats at the back of the platform and took shelter in their roles.

Lillian Zuniga read the part of a tribal health office client. Allison Sage sat across from her at a folding card table and played the caseworker. He asked about her Medicaid status. When Zuniga demurred about the difficulty of the enrollment form, one of the kids stood with a placard that read “Illiteracy,” and made a slow, somber loop of the performance area.


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