Native Communities Face Food and Medicine Shortages Amid Shutdown

We look at the widespread impact of the government shutdown on Native American communities, as the Indian Health Service goes understaffed and a federally funded food delivery program to Indian reservations has halted. Democratic members of Congress held a hearing Tuesday on the effects of the shutdown on health, education and employment in Native communities. We speak with Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today and member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue to look at the devastating impact of the longest government shutdown in US history, now turning to Native America, communities feeling its effects at a disproportionate rate, Native Americans reporting shortages of medicine as the Indian Health Service goes understaffed, while a federally funded food delivery program to Indian reservations has halted.

In a recent letter sent to President Trump, a coalition of Native groups wrote, “On tribal lands, the federal government assumed the responsibility to provide basic governmental services like health care, public safety, and education as a part of its treaty negotiations with tribal nations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS), the primary agencies responsible for providing these services, either directly or through compact and contracts with tribal governments, are both currently hamstrung by the shutdown,” they wrote.

Democratic congressmembers held a hearing Tuesday on the effects of the shutdown on health, education and employment in Native communities. Aaron Payment, chair of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, spoke at the hearing.

AARON PAYMENT: This shutdown violates the trust responsibility to tribal governments and adds to the trail of broken treaties. Federal agencies that provide critical government services to our nations are caught up in unrelated…

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