Opinion

Suzan Harjo: NCAI warns of drastic cut in Indian Country funds





"Dispelling any notion that Native Peoples are takers, the National Congress of American Indians and an impressive list of Native organizations and nations wrote to members of Congress on November 20: “The federal trust obligation to Indian tribes must be honored and vital tribal programs must be sustained in any deal to reduce the national debt. The obligations to tribal citizens funded in the federal budget are the result of treaties negotiated and agreements made between Indian tribes and the U.S. in exchange for land and resources, known as the trust responsibility.… [T]he authority to fund programs that fulfill the trust responsibility is founded in the Constitution, specifically the Indian Commerce Clause, the Treaty Clause and the Property Clause.”

NCAI estimates that if sequestration were implemented, the percentage cuts from fiscal-year 2010 Native programs (when adjusted for inflation) would be: job training, 23 percent; low income home energy assistance, 35 percent; vocational rehabilitation tribal grants, 25 percent; housing block grant, 21 percent; student education, 13 percent; tribal community oriented policing grants, 25 percent; and total Bureau of Indian Affairs Operation of Indian Programs,14 percent. “Cuts at the sequester level of 8.2 percent, or deeper, to investments in education, housing, roads, law enforcement, tribal courts, natural resources, energy development, job training, and health care would deal a devastating blow to the economic conditions in Indian Country.”"

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Makers, Takers and Gifts (Indian Country Today 11/27)

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