Some Americans (Euroamericans to skins) actually think they own Indians and their cultures. However, no friendship is based on that kind of one-sided view. What kind of respect would you have for a "friend" who always wanted to be given something (e.g., friendship), and never gave anything in return? If you want to be a friend to an Indian, you should at least be aware of these issues which are important to Indians. It would be even better if you could ask us how you could help.
1. Freedom of Religion: This includes issues such as protection of sacred sites, guarantee of access to sacred sites for Indian worship, freedom of worship in prison, and freedom to observe religious rituals and customs.
2. Recovery/reburial of Indian remains and recovery of cultural items. Indians are the only U.S. citizens whose human remains can be considered property.
3. Health and economic issues. Indians top every U.S. list regarding poverty, lack of resources, and poor physical and mental health.
4. Legal sovereignty. Indian nations wish to preserve their government-to- government relationship with the U.S..
5. Racism. The 1980's saw violence committed against non-violent Chippewa spearfishers and supporters in Wisconsin. Also during that time, a Lumbee Indian judge in North Carolina was assasinated.
6. Stereotypes and Team Mascots. The two most common stereotypes are the Noble Savage and the Warlike Savage. Indian team names and mascots, which are claimed to "honor" Indians, possibly actually help cause acts of violence against Indians.
7. Non-Indian Appropriation of Indian religions and culture. Note that this does not say participation. It says appropriation. The problem is not participating in an Indian religion. It's taking a Native religion and claiming that it's your own (along with the right to practice it or change it as you see fit).