‘A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.’
—Mahatma Gandhi, humanitarian and civil rights leader (1869-1948)
Efforts have been made to preserve the distinct and unique cultural heritage and indigenous way of life in the Commonwealth. Earlier this year the opinion was expressed that “the indigenous people have their priorities wrong.” The writer was referring to the efforts to deny non-NMDs the right to vote on Article 12 in comparison to the apparent lack of attention to significant health issues and the effects of diet, diabetes, betel nut chewing, lack of exercise, drugs, etc.
Generally, efforts to preserve the indigenous culture and heritage seem to have focused on language, arts and crafts.
However, it seems that one of the most significant and most important aspects of the indigenous culture is slipping away and being forgotten or ignored—that is, caring for family members who, because of age or illness, are unable to care for themselves.
A respite care system was established by the Legislature—but remains inadequately funded. When family members are unwilling or unable to provide care for their elderly or disabled family members, needed caregivers are difficult, if not impossible, to find.
In the interest of preserving the indigenous culture and heritage as well as providing necessary caregiver assistance to those in need, perhaps the Legislature, the NMD Corp., and members of the indigenous community could consider and focus on ideas, initiatives or programs to preserve and protect this aspect of the culture.
NMPASI was created to pursue legal, administrative and other appropriate remedies to protect and advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities. Recently more and more assistance is sought for elderly or disabled persons who are unable to care for themselves. Please contact NMPASI at 235-7273/4 [voice], 235-7275 [fax], or 235-7278 if you know of anyone interested in providing caregiver assistance on a part-time or full-time basis or if you have any ideas or alternatives for ensuring that the elderly or disabled persons in our community are provided with necessary care.
Legal counsel, NMPASI