Government Shut Down and Natives (news/government)

National Congress of American Indians NCAIWASHINGTON – The National Congress of American Indians, NCAI, has released the following statement regarding the budget impasse and the shutdown of the federal government:

The trust responsibility to tribal nations is not a line item.

"The failure to come to a budget agreement threatens the capacity of tribal governments to deliver basic governmental services to their citizens. The federal government has made treaty commitments to our people, and in return we ceded the vast lands that make up the United States. The immediate shutdown crisis poses very real threats to tribal governments and denies health, nutrition, and other basic services to the most vulnerable tribal citizens.

Even if the shutdown is resolved soon, a greater crisis remains – both the House and Senate versions of the Continuing Resolution sustained the devastating FY 2013 sequestration cuts.

The sequester has deeply affected tribal programs:

  • the Indian Health Service,
  • Indian education funding streams,
  • law enforcement,
  • infrastructure programs such as housing and road maintenance,
  • Head Start, and others.

These funding commitments serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens and are part of the federal government’s trust responsibility to tribal nations.

As Washington faces the threefold crisis of the shutdown, sequester, and debt limit, we call on the Congress to reach a long-term budget deal that meets the nation’s obligations to tribal nations and Native peoples. It is time to address the ongoing fiscal crisis caused by the sequester. The trust responsibility to tribal nations is not a line item and tribal programs must be exempt from budget cuts in any budget deal."

posted October 2, 2013 6:00 am edt