Your Letters: Unemployment, American Indians

We received hundreds of comments after we aired a story by NPR's Scott Horsley about how President Obama's political fortunes may be tied to the unemployment rate. We also heard from listeners about Gloria Hillard's piece on Native Americans who moved off reservations into major cities. Host Scott Simon reads listener letters about these stories and more.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Now time for your letters.

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SIMON: We got lots of comments on Gloria Hillard's piece on Native Americans who've moved off reservations into major cities. The Bureau of Indian Affairs Urban Relocation Program had encouraged that migration a few decades ago, and Los Angeles County has the country's largest urban Native American population.

RAMON ENRIQUEZ: This is the face of American Indians today. We're living in the cities, we're living where the jobs are, we're living where the opportunities are.

SIMON: Harold Edward writes at NPR.org: The reservations, however intended, were terrible for the welfare of this people. The rez isolated them from the economic and educational opportunities thrust upon every other immigrant group. They needed opportunities to develop a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, one that takes pride in Indian heritage but also weaves that heritage into the infinitely larger economic and cultural life of the nation.

Jerad Sorber adds: The story of Native American communities has been one of a great experiment, where entire peoples have had the things that bind them ripped away, leaving the members to reach for whatever they can to find stability. We are now in the second part of the experiment where those communities are now being left to try to conduct a cultural restoration and heal the damage that was done to them. The reservations have a central role to play in this, not just for those who live on them, but also for those members who wish to reconnect.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "LONG TIME TRAVELING")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) I'm a long time traveling here below. I'm a long time traveling away from home. I'm a long time traveling...

SIMON: Our What's In a Song segment, about a group sing-along at the home of a Utah folklorist who survived a stroke, brought recollections from many listeners, including Dayle Stratton, who writes: It took me back home to the Western mountains I love so much. I haven't suffered a stroke, but have an illness that affects my memory at times, and limits my life in other ways sporadically. I find singing restores me to a full sense of myself. Thank you for a beautiful story about some good people and the best kind of music - that which we sing ourselves.

Your comments, music to our ears. Please write to us. Go to NPR.org; click on the link that says Contact Us. We're on Facebook and Twitter, at NPRWeekend. And I'm NPRScottSimon.

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