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Native American Community Will Benefit From Stimulus Bill

There are currently about three million Native Americans living in the United States including a small population of North American Eskimo-Aleut. Some of these Native Americans live on 55.7 million acres of land that is administered by the Bureau Of Indian affairs. And while there are a number of highly successful persons in this community including top scientists, actors or even astronauts, this Native American population still continues to suffer from unacceptably high rates of poverty, health issues as well as a lack of health insurance.

During this current economic downturn, the rates of poverty problems within the Native American community have only worsened. At least 24.3% of Native Americans now live in poverty. And at least 29% of Native Americans may be without health insurance as well. And while a few Native American confederations run some casinos to help to bring in revenues or provide employment to keep this important culture alive, much of the schools, hospitals and other living conditions on Bureau Of Indian Affairs managed land are simply unacceptable.native american poverty.jpg

Generally, speaking the Native American community has witnessed years and years of funding neglect from Washington and has faced woeful underfunding of schools and education as well as health facilities. However, the current economic stimulus bill may help to provide up to $3 billion in badly needed funds to improve a wide range of services for Native Americans. While this may work out to an average expenditure of around $1,000 per Native American, these funds are badly needed to help this important segment of the U.S. population get the education they need to find employment, improve the quality of their schools, and help to reduce some serious health issues that face this community, including higher rates of heart problems and strokes than the general population.

One big problem is that when you hear opponents of this economic stimulus bill attack wasteful spending or seek to prevent the bill from passing, vital financial aid and improvement of the Native American communities in America is just one of the many important aspects of this bill. The fact of the matter is that the Native American community has largely faced poorly funded schools and health services for too many years. And this important aid to the Native American community is an important moral cause for the United States government which at one time caused this Native American community so much death and destruction, poverty and loss of land.

Today, many Americans live in conditions far more acceptable and comfortable than many Native Americans live. And it is an important obligation of the United States government to fund Native American services at some level of equal parity with comparable city schools or health services since it is the federal government that manages the Bureau Of Indian Affairs and not cities with local tax bases. With such a high poverty rate in some Native American communities, it is not possible for a local tax base high enough to fully fund many important services such as funding local fire departments or police.

Part of what is so encouraging about the Obama presidency is that this president is very serious about improving the economic standing, educational opportunities and health care funding for so much of the nation's poor. This is in sharp contrast to the Bush years where some minority populations of the U.S. actually lost much ground to poverty. And the added problems of this serious recession have also placed an additional strain on the health and well being of many in the Native American community.

On my mother's side of my family, there are some of my relatives who come from a South American Indian background. And while these relatives do live well, not all persons of a North or South American Indian background live quite so well. This current portion of the economic stimulus bill carefully targets funding to at least provide some needed aid to keep some North American Native services open and funded. When opponents of this economic stimulus bill tell you that they oppose this bill, this is just part of the important services included in the bill that need continued funding. The Bureau Of Indian Affairs needs continual vital funding to keep schools, hospitals and other services open. It is completely unacceptable for opponents of the economic stimulus bill to attempt to obstruct the continued funding of vital Bureau Of Indian Affairs Services. Vital services need to remain open. Such vital expenditures are hardly "pork" as some critics of this bill suggest. This is merely funding just basic services.


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Comments (11)

Fustian, as you can see from the photo of a Native American home on a Bureau Of Indian Affairs managed reservation lot, some Americans are living in Third World poverty conditions. As a goal, our nation must have all citizens living at some basic level of well being, education and health in order to be consumers of goods and services and keep the economy viable. In the short term, President Obama needs to improve the economy as well as the lives of the very poor. In the longer term, he needs to be a budget balancer like Bill Clinton was. This is what I expect to happen.

The poverty rate among Native Americans and other citizens needs to be reduced. Such poverty is a moral outrage.

Fustian, you know the government seems to just print more money when it needs to such as in the time of war such as WWII. I know that's not a good way to pay for anything. But as the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, hopefully that will save some money. And if the economy does rebound, then tax revenues should increase without any tax hikes.

I think the real choice of Obama would to be a budget balancer like a Bill Clinton, however the seriousness of this economic mess requires some actions. Even tax cuts cost the government great amounts of money because they are lost revenues meant to fund vital services.

I'm not completely happy with the choices at hand. But Mr. Obama was elected on a strong mandate to do something about the economy. But so far many have mixed feelings about whether this is the right answer. His entire presidency is likely on the line with this issue, whether he succeeds or he fails. I certainly understand your concerns here. I know that this is risky, but then again nonaction has even bigger risks involved as unemployment and retail sales plunges are only likely to worsen without more money in the hands of the public to start buying goods again. Hopefully those that are receiving some taxes back from the federal or state governments will spend this money as well to help to rescue the economy. But people need to spend as well as pay back their credit cards so that the banks have money to loan people to buy homes and cars.

I made it personal point to completely pay all my credit cards this past month so that the banks would have this money to loan to others. I felt that it was my duty to my country, even several of my cards had long periods of zero interest on them. When someone ties up a banks money by owing that bank, then that cash isn't available to loan to someone else. However, a person does also need to use their cards a little bit each year, because otherwise it only costs a bank money as well.

Ryan:

If anyone wants any kind of attestment to the sick situation of America's "indian reservations", I've lived a good portion of my life bordering the Navajo nation in Arizona. It's basically the pictures you see of the slums of Kenya, or Mexico City, except it's in northern Arizona.

When I was a young kid, you could always spot the "rez-kids" or the "rez-dog" because of their emaciation.

Allen:

Fustian, ask the GOP where to get the money, and they will tell you tax cuts! Their "trickle down" mantra means we get peed on, and the rich get richer, that's all.

fustian:

Obama was not elected because he had a strong mandate to do something about the economy. He was elected because people didn't like Bush. In fact, Obama was pretty careful not to be too specific about what he would do.

As near as I could tell, his economic plan was income redistribution. He wanted to increase tax on the wealthy and business and use part of that extra money to pay for increased social programs and part to give to those with lower incomes.

When the economy first crashed Obama made noises suggesting he realized that, of course, he would have to put off his ambitious social agenda until the economy could support it.

But then, it seems like the administration realized the economy allow them one free budget kick. The Senate took just about everything on their wish list, added a couple of zeroes and called it stimulus.

Take the money you mention here that is intended to help Native Americans. What's it specifically going to used for, and how does it count as economic stimulus? It seems to me that the whole subject of native American poverty deserves its own debate. One would like some assurance that the money spent on these problems will actually make some difference instead of just going down the rathole like so many government programs do. In the end, I predict the lives of native Americans will be unchanged by this bill, but that the government bureaucracy will grow.

And I simply do not understand why our country which has overborrowed can get out of our economic woes by more borrowing!

Please explain that one to me.

fustian:
Fustian, ask the GOP where to get the money, and they will tell you tax cuts! Their "trickle down" mantra means we get peed on, and the rich get richer, that's all.

Okay. How does that work?

You want the government to take more of your money so you don't get peed on?

I'm not following.

If a massive spending bill isn't passed, I guess we can expect the headline from the NYT to read...

Stimulus Bill fails: Women, Native Americans hardest hit.

Beyond that, I'm shocked that decades of federal government stewardship of Native Americans has left many of them just as desperately poor as everyone else who relies on government housing/income.

It's almost like big government can't do a damn thing at all very well.

Ryan:

Holy shit! Are those Enron-label boxes? Oh, the irony.

Dale:

Native americans have their own money. They have billions from casino money that they don't pay taxes on. Let them help themselves or start taxing casinos and spend that money on them. They deserve nothing. They need to move off the reservation and make a life for themselves. Every native I know that has made that decision has been successful, because they earn their own money and work hard. If we keep on giving them money they will keep on taking it and it will make no differece.

gene:

Dale says no taxes for native americans. What a bunch of bull***! I live and work on reservation where I pay state taxes, federal taxes, pay for utilities, pay sales taxes, casinos are required to pay states their share of monies earned. Many other services I received have nationwide benefits; ill-informed people such as Dave don't have the slightest idea we incur. No such thing as "FREEBIES" being native american. What a jerk.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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