Mar 262013

Mom and BabyRecently, tribal entities have claimed a need to exempt tribal and BIA funding from the sequester budget cuts that were to be across the board.

Amber Ebarb, analyst for the National Congress of American Indians, stated in a news report, (

“While food distribution, welfare programs and health care services that serve the needy are exempt from the cuts, similar services on reservations aren’t,”  she said. “…it’s outrageous that tribes are subject to these across-the-board cuts.”

According to the report, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) are urging colleagues to spare Indian Country from the budget cuts. Clara Pratte, director of the Navajo Nation’s D.C. office, said tribal leaders should press Congress to make funding for Indian programs mandatory, not discretionary. “I’m talking about grandmas, grandpas, kids under the age of 10. We can’t very well expect them to go to work.”

Elizabeth Sharon Morris, Chairwoman of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, disagrees that funding should be mandatory or that most of it goes to the elderly and children.

“With the varied reports across the nation of corruption and abuse within tribal government, (example – ) – to continue the charade that taxpayer money is unquestionably well managed and appropriately used to serve the needy within Indian Country is unconscionable. Instead of the BIA attempting to “make it hurt” in order to keep outlandish budgets, let’s ensure that all elderly and children from across the nation, no matter their heritage or location, are the number one priority and are well cared fo, while instead, cutting out the real waste and corruption that we know exists within bureaucratic budgets.”

Money used under questionable circumstances is illustrated in part in the accounts of tribal leaders of the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota. Many charges on the card statements (, & ) are local charges – not traveling charges.

Gang activity is also rampant in Indian Country, – yet Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. states that he will cut the police force rather than unnecessary expenditures – or swollen salaries of tribal leadership. If this is the conventional stewardship of federal funds, there is no doubt there needs to be cuts:

Further, the BIA, like many federal programs, is a bloated institution with questionable purpose in an age when we prefer to recognize and respect functional adults for their capability to make their own life decisions. Cutting some of the funding to it is in America’s best interest.

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