Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
WASHINGTON Representing one of the poorest and depressed reservations in the United States, Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer and several tribal council members journeyed to the nation’s capital this week to tell Congress to reopen the federal government that has been closed since October 1.
The federal government shutdown is now having devastating effects on the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s ability to continue essential services to tribal citizens.
“We need Congress to do its job: fund the government. These impacts may be unintended, but they are a clear consequence of the shutdown,”
commented Oglala Sioux Tribal President Brewer.
“It is a devastating situation, not a political debate. Our people suffer the worst poverty in the country. It is unthinkable to have to close programs, stop services, and turn people out of their jobs. In an area with 80 percent unemployment, furloughs are a humanitarian disaster.”
The tribal delegations went to Washington to tell people on Capitol Hill they are at the point they may have to furlough hundreds of tribal employees because they cannot pay them without the federal funds are not coming due to the government being closed.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe has come 45,000 members and consists of 3.1 million acres on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota.
“Federal funding for critical tribal programs has been inaccessible during the federal government shutdown,”
according to Toni Red Cloud, director of public relations for the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
And, as the shutdown continues, some programs will be closed down. Included in the programs at risk are: the USDA Food Distribution Program; the Suicide Prevention Program, which is funded through the Department of Health & Human Services; the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Homeless Veterans Program; and the Emergency Youth Shelter Program, a US Department of the Interior program. Even the Tribe’s Department of Corrections, funded through the Interior Department, is at jeopardy, which may result in the release of prisoners.
posted October 11, 2013 9:57 am edt