Archive for January 2nd, 2012

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

Happy New Year. Or, I should say, happy election year. From now on the national election for president (as well as the house and the senate) shifts from a vague threat to an actual election. But not just any election because the 2012 result represents a significant threat to Indian Country.

No matter who or which party wins there will be ginormous changes in federal programs and dollars that are invested in Native American communities. Remember both Democrats and Republicans are promising significantly less spending as we enter a new era of contraction. The reasons for that policy shift are complicated by the nation’s debt levels and the aging demographics of the country.

Still there remain major policy differences between President Barack Obama and the Republican challengers for the office about how to make these cuts and what alternatives might be put in place to cushion the blow. The Obama administration has done a pretty good job of protecting funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service recognizing decades of underfunding. That will not happen if any of the Republican candidates are elected (and the more strident G.O.P. candidates are promising to eliminate the BIA and to strip tens of millions of dollars from IHS).

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