Tribes bash proposed Trump budget cuts to Native American programs

A Senate Budget Committee staff member pages through a copy of President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

PORTLAND, Ore. — Dozens of Native American tribes in six Western states expressed outrage Thursday at President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to American Indian programs, saying they would erase significant progress on child welfare and climate change and gut social services and education on reservations across the U.S.

Members from tribes in Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, Idaho and Alaska called on Congress to restore funding to tribes during budget negotiations. The cuts ignore the treaty responsibilities to federally recognized tribes, they said, and put a stranglehold on programs that have been chronically underfunded.

Coalter Baker, a spokesman with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, did not reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

“This is the single largest attack on Indian Country that we’ve experienced in recent history. There is no doubt that the president has made a statement toward Indian County,” said Mel Sheldon, a councilman with the Tulalip Tribes in Washington state. “It is not a good statement.”

The proposed budget would slash $64 million in federal Native American funding for education, $21 million for law enforcement and safety, $27 million for natural resources management programs run by tribes plus $23 million from human services, which includes the Indian Child Welfare Act, said Carina Miller, a councilwoman with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, in Oregon.

It would also eliminate funding for tribal work on climate change and cut block grant programs that provide housing assistance for Native Americans, she added.

Eliminating $10 million for a program that helps tribes prepare for and deal with rapid environmental change would be particularly harmful, said Fawn Sharp, president of…

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