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    These Indigenous People Have Gone Viral For Exposing The High Costs Of Groceries On Native Reservations

    "The water is $36."

    Grocery shopping can be a hassle depending on your budget and the varying prices of items at different stores.

    A person standing in front of the refrigerated section of a grocery store
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    In many Indigenous communities, everything is worse. Basic items like water or fruit — that would typically only cost a few dollars — are priced at $20 or $30.

    A grocery store produce section
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    Recently, Shina Nova (@shinanova), an Inuk woman, made a video to educate her followers on the high-priced items at grocery stores in Indigenous communities.


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    Strawberries for more than $14.

    @shinanova / Via

    Ketchup for $16.

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    Peanut butter for $11.

    @shinanova / Via

    These are just a few examples of the high-priced goods that have plagued Indigenous communities for years.

    @shinanova / Via, @shinanova / Via

    And according to Vice, the cost of actually shipping the food to some of these communities rose by 400% during COVID, which only continues to raise the prices of the items sold in store.

    A 12-pack of Dr. Pepper cans retailing for $22.69
    @whateverjericho / Via

    In the U.S., the situation isn't much better. In 2018, Move for Hunger reported that one in eight Americans already face food insecurity. In Indigenous communities, that rate is three to four times higher. Food deserts — residential areas with little access to groceries, especially high-quality food —  have plagued low-income communities for centuries because of the government regulations on community food programs and restrictions on growing crops or hunting on reservation land. "Almost one-half of all tribal area individuals had incomes at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Of those, 27.8% lived in walking distance from a supermarket, compared with 63.6% of low-income individuals nationwide," according to a 2014 USDA survey.

    "Since COVID happened, there's really been nothing going on in terms of help," Jericho Anderson (@whateverjericho) told BuzzFeed. The 21-year-old grew up in Kasabonika Lake, an Oji-Cree First Nations band government in Ontario, Canada.

    Jericho wearing traditional garb
    @whateverjericho / Via

    "It's a fly-in community, so it's very isolated," he said. "There are only about 1,000 people."

    Jericho said he felt "shielded" growing up, and it wasn't until high school that he became aware of the many issues Indigenous people face living on a reservation.

    @whateverjericho / Via

    "I started working at The Northern (a grocery/general store) as a cashier when I was 15," he said. "I'd see people put stuff back like toilet paper or Pampers."

    Then, one day, he decided to do something about it. He started posting on his TikTok to try and educate others about different aspects of life on a reservation. In one video, Jericho delves deeper into his frustrations about overpriced groceries in his community, like the fact that "healthy alternatives" are way more expensive.

    @whateverjericho / Via

    He said as an employee, he was always told the prices were a result of the "weight or volume" of each item.

    Bottled water in Jericho's community is sold for $36.49. But still, Jericho said he believes he grew up "lucky" because, unlike many other reservations, Kasabonika Lake residents had access to clean tap water.

    @whateverjericho / Via

    "Other communities have to boil it," he said.

    "Many people live paycheck to paycheck," Jericho said. "Minimum wage here in Ontario is the same on the reservation too. It's $14 all across Ontario, so we're paying high[er] prices with the same [minimum] wage."

    @whateverjericho / Via

    Although Jericho does receive any number of ignorant comments on his posts, he also said "a lot of people want to help."

    @whateverjericho / Via

    "People want to donate their own money, which is nice," he said. "But I also think we have to do something deeper than that to fix the system."

    If you are interested in learning more about how to help Indigenous communities, please check out these resources: NDN Collective, Center for World Indigenous Studies, IllumiNative, Climate Justice Alliance, and others.