Nonetheless, “a general sense of satisfaction” is in the air, Indian Country Today’s Washington, D.C., reporter Rob Capriccioso writes here, as leaders review President Barack Obama’s proposed 2011 budget.
Not only are many programs serving Indian Country maintained, but variety of others – underfunded for decades – would be strengthened under that proposal. That would seem to bear out President Obama’s promises to Indian Country during his meeting with Native leaders last fall, one of the biggest Native American news events of the year. (See video above.)
“Last year, for FY 2010, Congress enacted historic increases to important programs that are essential to tribes, especially during this time of economic recession,” says Jefferson Keel, National Congress of American Indians president and lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation.
“NCAI applauds the administration’s proposals for FY 2011 to continue to make investments in Indian health, tribal public safety, environmental protection programs, and self-determination contract support costs and administrative cost grants.”
That said, Capriccioso notes that there are still areas of concern. Patricia Whitefoot, National Indian Education Association president, proposed the creation of an assistant secretary of Indian education at the Department of Education as a way of dealing with underfunding in that area.
And Marty Shuravloff, National American Indian Housing Council chairman, pointed out that funds for the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act are actually dropping.
“To put this in proper context, funding appropriated by Congress in FY 1998 – 12 years ago – was $20 million more than the president’s budget request for FY 2011,” Shuravloff says.
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