Kenn Cramer is the Senior Director of Parish Life for the St Paul Mission who, alongside his wife Laura, the Director of Religious Education and all around financial planner and bookkeeper, ministers to the needs of the Native American Nakoda and A'aninin people living on a reservation in Montana.
Kenn explains how his community of 4,000 is 80% Catholic, but only 4% ever step foot in a Church outside of his or her own baptism and funeral. The community is has a 75% unemployment rate and a barely subsistent life. There is a widespread sense of hopelessness and a lack of personal dignity, which leads to crushingly high levels of suicide, drug addition and alcohol abuse.
And in the midst of such poverty, Kenn has encountered the utter uniqueness of these people and the Church's dire need of them in her life. "How can the body of Christ function missing an entire limb?" Yet that is what is happening in the Third World poverty of these reservations in the middle of the world's richest nation.
Modern Native Americans
Natives Against John McCain: An investigation into living conditions in the Navajo nation of the southwestern United States
Diocese of Gallup serves the nation’s largest reservation: The Diocese of Gallup has a rich history, especially when it comes to the many Native American tribes contained within its borders. These tribes, including Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, Apache, and Pueblo peoples, form a unique and important part of the Diocese… The purpose of this office is to assess and meet the spiritual needs of the Native American members of the Diocese.
Pine Ridge Reservation, the Poorest in the country: From 1980 to 2000, the counties that make up Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota comprised the poorest of our nation's 3,143 counties. The 2000 census found them the third poorest, not because things got better on Pine Ridge, but because things got worse on two other South Dakota Indian Reservations.
Extreme Poverty: The poverty on Pine Ridge can be described in no other terms than third world. It is common to find homes overcrowded, as those with homes take in whoever needs a roof over their heads. Many homes are without running water, and without sewer.