In an attempt to paint a picture of Native Americans simply needing a handout from the federal government, The New York Times ignores the real reason behind many of the furloughs on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana.
The NYT reporter begins his report from Crow Agency, Montana.
Some 364 Crow members, more than a third of the tribe’s work force, have been furloughed. A bus service, the only way some Crow are able to travel across their 2.3-million-acre reservation, has been shuttered. A home health care program for sick tribal members has been suspended.
Though the tribe has enough money to keep a skeleton government operating for now, it is running out.
I was in Crow Agency meeting with Crow Tribal Chairman Darrin Old Coyote. Chairman Old Coyote informed me that they had to furlough hundreds of workers not just because of the lack of federal tax dollars, but because the feds are holding on to their Crow Coal money. It is money that is paid by Westemoreland Resources, who also provide jobs on the reservation, that is simply sitting in Washington, DC. The middleman won’t give them their cash back.
Here’s the same audio clip I posted last week, in case you missed it:
Click to Listen
Chairman Old Coyote added that the government shutdown should be a wakeup call for every tribe in the US to become more self sufficient.
Meanwhile, from the Pew Foundation: ACA – A Hard Sell for Native Americans
Longstanding treaties with the federal government guarantee all Native Americans free health care. As a result, the Affordable Care Act exempts them from paying a penalty if they choose not to purchase insurance. More than 2 million Native Americans receive free health care at federally supported Indian health facilities. Many others receive care from tribal facilities and urban Indian organizations.
Although tribal members are entitled to free health care, most Indian health facilities do not offer a full array of services. When patients need major surgery or cancer treatments, for example, they are referred to specialists outside of Indian lands. At least two-thirds of those referral claims are rejected, Bly said. That puts Indians at risk of either paying major medical bills themselves or doing without needed treatments. In addition, about half of Native Americans live in urban areas that are great distances from tribal health facilities.
As a group, the nation’s 5.2 million Native Americans have poorer health and less access to health care than the rest of the U.S. population. Their uninsured rate is nearly 30 percent, compared to 15 percent for the country as a whole. And nearly half of all Indians have incomes low enough to qualify for Medicaid in states that have chosen to expand coverage, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. More than 1 million Native Americans are already enrolled in Medicaid.
So we spent $400 million on an Obamacare website that doesn’t even work? What could that money have done for Indian health, or veterans health care?
As the shutdown continues to impact access to national parks, some tribes are asserting sovereignty and treaty rights to access federal lands closed during this supposed “shutdown.”
Per The Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
A Blackfeet tribal member was allowed to pray in a closed national park this week after asserting his tribal rights.
On Monday, James St. Goddard, a Blackfeet spiritual leader, approached Yellowstone National Park’s West Gate and requested permission to enter so he could conduct a ceremony for the park’s bison.
Under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the First Amendment, the National Park Service has a policy that allows Native Americans to access the parks for religious purposes.
What about the rest of us? Well, don’t worry- the tribes have got your back as well, as Michael Mattson reports for Montana Watchdog.
A group of anglers facing a fishing access site on the Bighorn River in Montana, closed by the federal government, instead called the Crow Nation for some help:
“What are the chances we could access the Afterbay from your side of the river?”
The response was immediate, and welcomed.
“Fifteen bucks for a tribal land pass, and help yourself. Bring as many as you want.”