Unlike the medical examiner's office in New Mexico, which routinely autopsies sudden or violent deaths, most U.S. hospitals perform postmortem examinations only rarely. John W. Poole/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption John W. Poole/NPR

Dr. Alex Dromerick co-directs the Brain Research Center at the National Rehabilitation Hospital. Here he observes Stephen Jones, a policeman who was involved in a motorcycle accident. Becky Lettenberger/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Becky Lettenberger/NPR

Jeff Galemore leans on his pickup truck near the Ash Grove Cement plant in Chanute, Kan. He and his family are concerned about the toxic emissions and are fighting for independent testing downwind. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR

The Continental Carbon plant sits on the southern outskirts of Ponca City, Okla. Until August, the plant was on an internal EPA "watch list," for violating rules of the Clean Air Act. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR

The Continental Carbon plant sits on the southern outskirts of Ponca City, Okla. Residents blamed the plant, which produces a black dust known as carbon black, for polluting their city. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption David Gilkey/NPR

Dwayne Stenstrom and his wife, Rose, live on South Dakota's Rosebud reservation, where they raised six children. Also pictured is their granddaughter. John Poole/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption John Poole/NPR

When Dwayne Stenstrom was 8 years old a state worker told him that he and his brother were going to a special camp for the summer. Instead, he spent 12 years in foster care.

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itoggle caption John Poole/NPR

Children at the Black Hills campus of the Children's Home Society head into the main building for lunch. The home caters to children with special needs, many of whom are Native American.

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itoggle caption Laura Sullivan/NPR