NCAI Action Alert – Call on Congress to End Sequestration for the Indian Country Budget

Senator Dorgan Highlights “Broken Promises” to Tribes in NY Times Editorial

NCAI, tribal leaders, and advocates have consistently called for Congress and the Administration to hold tribal trust and treaty funding harmless from the federal government’s sequestration. NCAI continues to raise the profile of the issue with policymakers, reminding members of Congress that “the federal trust responsibility is not a line item.”

As sequestration continues, the predicted impact is becoming more real and apparent in Indian Country and beyond. As it does, the national media have honed in on more evidence that sequestration is having a disproportionate impact on tribal governments, citizens, and services.

That’s why NCAI is calling on all tribal governments, leaders, and citizens to raise their voice about the continuing and deepening impact of sequestration on tribal nations.

Take Action: Tell Your Story

  • Share Your Story with NCAI – As part of the effort to document sequester impacts, NCAI requests that tribes and tribal organizations collect and share specific sequester stories. Email NCAI to discuss how the sequestration has impacted your tribe.
  • Share Your Story with Congress and the media – If you have concrete examples of sequestration’s effects on tribal education, public safety, health care, child welfare, infrastructure or other areas, take action to contact your members of Congress in the House or Senate and local media.

National Media Coverage of Sequestration

Last week, the national media drew attention to the impact of sequestration. The New York Times published an article on July 12, titled Pain on the Reservation, which details significant impacts on tribal services across the country. This article followed an important New York Times op-ed, penned by Senator Byron Dorgan, founder of the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY). His op-ed, “Broken Promises” was published on Wednesday July 10, and highlights the impacts of broken treaty promises to Pine Ridge due to sequestration, an issue that poses an extraordinary threat to the trust and treaty obligations to all tribes.

Senator Dorgan explains:

Tribal leaders, parents and some inspiring children I’ve met make valiant efforts every day to overcome unemployment, endemic poverty, historical trauma and a lack of housing, educational opportunity and health care.

But these leaders and communities are once again being mistreated by a failed American policy, this time going under the ugly name “sequestration.” This ignorant budget maneuvering requires across-the-board spending cuts to the most important programs along with the least important. American Indian kids living in poverty are paying a very high price for this misguided abandonment of Congressional decision-making.

When we pushed American Indians off their tribal lands, we signed treaties making promises to provide services in exchange for that land. On my visit to Pine Ridge, I saw how we continue to cheat them. Sequestration, which should never have applied to sovereign Indian reservations in the first place, only compounds the problem.

It’s easy for many to believe those who say that automatic budget cuts aren’t hurting anybody much. But that’s wrong.

NCAI will continue working alongside tribes to convince Congress to spare trust and treaty obligations from further across-the-board reductions, but we need the help of tribes. At the NCAI Mid Year Conference, NCAI passed a resolution, REN-13-004, “Engaging the NCAI Budget Taskforce to Protect Tribal Programs from Impacts of Sequestration through Legislation.”

More analysis, policy papers, testimony, and the NCAI FY 2014 Tribal Budget Request are all available at NCAI’s budget/appropriations webpage. The page also includes presentations from the NCAI Mid Year breakout session, “Tribal Operations and Business During Tight Times.”

NCAI Contact Information: Amber Ebarb, Legislative Associate –aebarb@ncai.org


Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights.

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