Montana Politics Steve Daines

Daines Shutdown Harms Indian Country – “Lives are at Stake” says First Native American Congresswoman

Some very good Montana reporting occurring around the Steve Daines government Shutdown and how it is creating instability and fear in Indian Country.

Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas, the first of two female Native Americans sworn into Congress this session, along with Deb Haaland, offers some harrowing insights into the risks Native Americans face during a shutdown.

From MTPR:

The shutdown is having unintended consequences in big and small ways. For Indigenous communities, it’s been particularly crippling. Many rely heavily on federal government payouts owed to tribes based on treaties. The funds go towards basic services, from plowing roads to health care to stocking food pantries.

Congresswoman Sharice Davids(D-KS): “Well, the shutdown directly impacts tribes in a number of different ways. You actually already mentioned a couple of them. I spoke with one tribal leader who said that they actually lost a tribal member because they were unable to plow the roads so that an emergency service vehicle could get to him in time. Literally, lives are at stake because the federal government is not up and running in the way that it’s supposed to be.”

From the Missoulian:

As the federal government’s shutdown drags on, northwest Montana’s two tribal governments are using their resources carefully.

The 12-day-old government shutdown poses challenges for Indian tribes across the country, which receive a wide range of federal grants, partnerships, and other funds.

On the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Tribal Business Council Chairman Tim Davis said that “we’re impacted significantly” by the shutdown. While government employees who protect life and property, such as law enforcement, will continue to work without pay, other programs have either been suspended or will end soon as residual funds run out.

Davis voiced particular concern about a lack of Bureau of Indian Affairs snow removal and road maintenance services on the vast Blackfeet Reservation, and the future of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program.

And some very good national reporting on it as well:

Shutdown Leaves Food, Medicine and Pay in Doubt in Indian Country via New York Times

For many Americans who are not federal workers or contractors, a shutdown is a minor inconvenience. A trip to a national park may be canceled. A call to a government office may go unanswered. But for Native American tribes, which rely heavily on federal money to operate, a shutdown can cripple their most basic functions.

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