The Health status of the Registered Indian population of Saskatchewan : 1959-1978
Brady, Paul Desmond
The goal of this study is to evaluate the health status of the Registered Indian population of Saskatchewan. For this purpose, a comparative and historical analysis of the health status of Saskatchewan's Registered Indian and non-Indian populations is provided over the twenty year time period from 1959 to 1978. The study commences by formally defining the major terms, and discussing the methodological issues involved in the study of health status. Central to the discussion is the sociological assessment of health status through the use of mortality data. Attention is then focused on the two main theoretical frameworks employed in the explanation of Indian health status. Structural-functional theories of health behavior and ethnic relations are briefly reviewed. It is noted that these theoretical perspectives have received extensive criticism. The internal colonial theoretical model is chosen for use in the present study. This approach to the development of capitalism in Canada indicates that Saskatchewan's Registered Indians constitute a problem population within the proletarian class. It is further indicated that Registered Indians are maintained and perpetuated as a problem population due to the establishment of a colonial relationship between the Indians (colonized) and the dominant society (colonizers). This in turn leads to a descriptive discussion of the socioeconomic status of Saskatchewan's Registered Indians. This is necessary in order to provide a more comprehensive picture of their specific class position. The indicators employed for this purpose tend to show that Saskatchewan's Registered Indians have an extremely low socioeconomic status. The discussion then turns to a review of studies documenting the relationship between socioeconomic status and mortality in order to provide an indication of the significance of low socioeconomic status in relation to mortality. The review studies provide substantial evidence that the highest infant and general mortality rates occur among the lowest socioeconomic group. This finding tends to strongly suggest that Saskatchewan's Registered Indians would suffer the associated relatively higher infant and general mortality rates, as indicators tend to show that they have an extremely low socioeconomic status. A discussion of several environmental aspects of Saskatchewan reserves is provided. This includes an overview of the demographic characteristics of Saskatchewan's Registered Indians, and a discussion of the relationship between reserve housing and sanitation and the prevalence and propagation of disease. It is suggested that heightened mortality and morbidity among Saskatchewan's Registered Indians is strongly influenced by the environmental conditions on Saskatchewan reserves. The mortality data used in the evaluation and analysis of the health status of Saskatchewan's Registered Indians is presented. This includes tables showing the overall crude and standardized mortality rates for the Registered Indian and non-Indian populations from 1959 to 1978. In addition, cause specific mortality tables for the leading causes of death among Registered Indians, compared to non-Indians, is provided. Further, the average ranked leading causes of death among the Registered Indian population is compared with the same for the non-Indian Saskatchewan population. Based on the empirical mortality data presented in this study, it is generally concluded that the Registered Indian population of Saskatchewan have a substantially lower ranked health status than the non-Indian Saskatchewan population. It is also concluded that the Registered Indian population suffers from distinctly different leading causes of death, as well as experiencing mortality from these different causes and other leading causes at a differing magnitude from that endured by the non-Indian Saskatchewan population.