Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/57

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53
THE INDIAN'S HEALTH PROBLEM

This is what happened to this proud and self-respecting race! But since then they have silently studied the world's history and manners; they have wandered far and wide and observed life for themselves. They have thought much. The great change has come about; the work has been done, whether poorly or otherwise, and upon the whole the good will prevail. The pessimist may complain that nothing has come of all the effort made in behalf of the Indian. I say that it is not too late for the original American to regain and re-establish his former physical excellency. Why should he not? Much depends upon his own mental attitude, and this is becoming more normal as the race approaches, and some part of it attains to, self-support and full citizenship. As I have said, conditions are improving, yet much remains to be done, and it should be done quickly. An exhaustive inquiry into health conditions among the tribes was made in accordance with an act of Congress in 1912, and the report presented in January, 1913, was in brief as follows:

1. Trachoma is exceedingly prevalent among Indians.
2. Tuberculosis among Indians is greatly in excess of that estimated for the white population.
3. The sanitary conditions upon reservations are, on the whole, bad.
4. The primitive Indian requires instruction in personal hygiene and habits of living in stationary dwellings.
5. The sanitary conditions in most Indian schools are unsatisfactory.
6. There is danger of the spread of tuberculosis and trachoma from the Indian to other races.
7. Due care is not taken in the collection and preservation of vital statistics.
8. The medical department of the Indian Bureau is hampered by insufficient authority and inadequate compensation.

As a result of this and other investigations, increased appropriations have been asked for, and to a limited extent provided, for the purpose of preventing and treating disease, and especially of checking the spread of serious contagious ailments. More stress is being laid upon sanitary precautions and hygienic instruction in Indian schools, and an effort is made to carry this instruction into the Indian home, through field matrons and others. Four sanitoria or sanitarium schools have been successfully established in suitable climates, and it is recommended by an Indian Service specialist that certain boarding-school plants be set apart for trachoma pupils, where they can have thorough and consistent treatment and remain until the cure is complete. Much larger appropriations are needed in order to carry out in full these beneficent measures, and I earnestly hope that they may be forthcoming.

It is interesting to note that whereas a few years ago the Indians were reproved for placing their sick in canvas tents and arbors, and in every way discouraged from any attempt to get out of their stifling