Hundreds rally at the White House for an end to the government shutdown. (Photo by AFGE, Flickr/Creative Commons, no changes made, https://tinyurl.com/ydx8vufw)
For many Tribes across the country that count on federal grants, budgets are stretched thin and they’re quickly depleting financial reserves to provide critical Tribal member services. Some Tribes have had to cut workers’ hours or even furlough employees until the government shutdown ends and funding is restored.
“Every day the president continues to treat Tribal health and public safety programs like hostages for political gain endangers families across Indian Country,” U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico said last week on the Senate floor, reported ABC News.
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is impacting at least a third of 800,000 U.S. federal employees who missed their first paychecks last week. Some Tribes have been able to step up to provide for citizens, particularly Tribal members who are federal employees and whom the government shutdown is taking a significant toll.
Two of those Tribes are the Navajo Nation and Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
Funding for recipients of Navajo Nation scholarships was momentarily withheld due to the government shutdown. But the Office of Navajo Nation Scholarships and Financial Assistance, which provides students the opportunity to achieve their educational goals — with the intent they’ll return to advance the economic development of the Navajo Nation, has announced the office has resumed processing scholarships. Students should receive their money within the next few weeks.
On January 11, President Russell Begaye directed the Navajo Nation controller to loan $2.5 million to the scholarship program until the Bureau of Indian Affairs Navajo Region Office is open again, reported the Navajo Times.
The Sitka Tribe is responding to the government shutdown by opening its food pantry to federal employees, regardless of whether they’re Tribal citizens. “Go to the 110 American Street office for Sitka Tribe,” Sitka Tribe of Alaska chair KathyHope Erickson said, reported KCAW.
“Just bring in your government ID badge or other proof of federal employment, and you can pick up some food there. It’s a really well supplied food pantry so I’d encourage anyone who is eligible to come in.”
The Tribe is also offering some financial assistance to Tribal citizens who are federal employees.
The Tribe will establish a new account for the advanced funding, which should return to the tribe when the office receives funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Rose Graham, department manager for the scholarship office, told the Albuquerque Journal.