Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sequestration cuts especially hard on Indian Country

The New York Times editorial board published an editorial called "Abandoned in Indian Country" yesterday.  In it, the editors call attention to the effect the sequestration is having in Indian Country.  Here's an excerpt:
[Republicans] are willfully averting their eyes from Indian reservations, where the cuts are real, specific, broad and brutal. The victims are among the poorest, sickest and most isolated Americans. 
The sequester in a nutshell? “More people sick; fewer people educated; fewer people getting general assistance; more domestic violence; more alcoholism,” Richard Zephier, executive director of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, recently told Annie Lowrey of The Times.
The piece goes into great detail about the consequences of the sequester for the already under-funded Indian Health Services and for tribal education in places like the Pine Ridge Reservation where the Oglala Sioux live (South Dakota), and the Indian Rock school district in the Navajo Nation (Arizona and New Mexico).  It also details the devastating cuts to public safety programs, both those run by the tribe and those run by the federal government.    

The editorial references a recent op-ed, Broken Promises, by former North Dakota Senator (and before that, U.S. Representative) Byron Dorgan.  In that piece, Dorgan calls for Congress to "hold hearings to examine its broken treaty promises and develop a plan for restitution."  Dorgan calls for Indian country to be exempted from sequestration and the NY Times editors agree with him.  When it comes to Indians, the editors write, "[W]here the deficit zealots see virtue, we see moral failure."  Moral failure, indeed.