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Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK

World: Americas

Clinton highlights Indian plight

President Clinton is on a tour of impoverished areas

Bill Clinton has become the first United States president for over 60 years to visit an Indian reservation.

The BBC's Graham Satchell: "President Clinton came with a message"
His trip to the Oglala Sioux's Pine Ridge Reservation, the second largest in the country, sought to highlight the deep poverty suffered by many native Americans.

It was timed to coincide with the announcement of a $1.5bn package to help those on reservations.

Unemployment among native Americans is rife, with housing a chronic problem, and income far below the national average.

President Clinton is currently on a four-day tour to highlight communities all over the US that have been bypassed by economic progress.

He says his tour is a mission to extend the country's economic upswing to its inner cities and rural areas.

Wounded Knee massacre

The Pine Ridge Reservation - one of the poorest parts of the country - was the site of the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890, when US troops killed several hundred Sioux Indian men, women and children.

Spread over about 2m acres, the reservation was created in 1889 by an act of Congress.

According to statistics provided by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1.43m native Americans are still living on or near US reservations.

Bleak prospects

Less than two-thirds of native Americans are high school graduates. Some 29% are homeless, and more than half live in substandard housing.

More than a third of all native American children aged 6-11 live in poverty.

The government estimates that 50% of native Americans are unemployed, and at Pine Ridge the problem is even worse - 73% do not have jobs.

It is home to 38,000 people, but has no public transport network and only a few small native American-owned businesses such as cafes, video stores and petrol stations.

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