Sequestration in Indian Country

This page provides information and resources related to sequestration in Indian Country. Below is also a clearinghouse of news stories, blogs, and radio segments on the impacts of sequestration in Indian Country. The September 2013 updated policy paper on sequestration in Indian Country may be downloaded here.

September 4, 2013 Webinar

National Congress of American Indians (click for presentation - .pptx file)
Budget timeline and recent activity.
Sequester’s impact on funding for tribes.
Treaty Promises are Bipartisan
Analysis of Media Stories about Tribes and Sequestration
National Indian Health Board (click for presentation - .pptx file)
Impacts on Indian Health Service
National Indian Education Association (click for presentation - pptx file)
Impacts on Indian Education
Cherokee Nation (click for presentation -.pptx file)
How tribes can develop effective sequester impact reports and stories.

Clearinghouse of News Stories on Sequestration in Indian Country

This section provides a collection of some of the news coverage of the ways sequestration is affecting tribal communities, from reductions to school systems, health care services, public safety, tribal colleges, substance abuse and mental health services, Head Start, and more. 

Tribes expect 'devastating' sequester cuts
August 28, 2013
By Dan Gunderson
Minnesota Public Radio
Region: Midwest
Tribes: White Earth, Red Lake Band of Chippewa
• Indian Health Service (less preventive care and delays in getting treatment)
• education
• housing
• tribal governmental services: Half of White Earth’s tribal government budget, about $30 million, is federal funding.
• Reservation schools are already laying off staff in anticipation of significant cuts to federal impact aid.
• The Red Lake school district receives about $8 million in federal funds. Because of sequestration, the district cut $1.3 million from its budget. The result: five teachers and three paraprofessionals were laid off this summer.
• The Naytahwaush charter school on the White Earth Reservation cut 10 percent from its $2.2 million annual budget. The school incorporates Ojibwe language and culture into its K-6 curriculum and has raised student test scores. Sequestration forced the school to lay off two of the three paraprofessionals who give students one-on-one tutoring.
• The charter school is adding 30 minutes to the school day so students have extra time to get help from teachers. But the administrator worries cutting paraprofessionals will roll back some of the academic gains made by the school.
Issues: IHS not exempt compared to Medicare and Medicaid, treaty rights

Daines visits Flathead Indian Reservation
By Berl Tiskus
Issue Date: 8/28/2013

State: Montana
Tribes: Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe (CSKT)
Noteworthy: Congressman Daines (R-MT) plans to visit all reservations in Montana before Congress reconvenes in September. Steve Daines talks about a shortage of wood and concrete workers in Bozeman, where he lives. He approves of Job Corps, which teaches young people a trade or skill and makes them employable.
Programs: Tribal Colleges, IHS, BIA – including law enforcement, social services, higher education scholarships, forestry, and natural resources
• Clairmont, CSKT financial director, noted Indian Health Service funding was reduced by $713,376, and Department of Indian Affairs Operation of Indian Programs monies by over $300,000.
• The funding reduction doesn’t reduce trust responsibility, Clairmont’s info said, and CSKT will be challenged to continue to meet the social, educational and other needs of its 7,900 tribal members.
• Salish Kootenai College President Robert Depoe said SKC needs the Department of the Interior’s appropriation bill to fund the Indian Student Count at a level of at least $5,850 per ISC, less than the authorized level of $8,000. Also tribal colleges are historically underfunded. He’d like to see Congress exempt tribal colleges from further sequestration cuts.
• Templer, with the Department of Human Resource Development, mentioned the Fatherhood program, which her department facilitates and which was in the top 10 percent of programs funded. She wants to continue the program and attract new fathers but is concerned about continued funding.
• Jim Durglo talked to Daines about the disparity between funding for Bureau of Indian Affairs forestry programs, which is 30 percent of that of adjacent national forests. He added that collaborative forest restoration programs, such as in the Seeley Swan Ranger District, can’t be used to treat tribal trust land. “Healthy forests are an issue I’m very passionate about,” Daines said.

Arne Duncan Apologizes to Native Community for Sequestration Impact
August 12, 2013
By Diette Courrégé Casey
Blog: Education Week
Link to story

Region: Wyoming
Tribe: Wind River
Issue: Secretary of Education apologized for disproportionate effect on tribal communities of sequester.
Programs: Impact Aid, Department of Education

Top federal officials visit Wind River Indian Reservation, face tough questions on education
August 09, 2013
By Leah Todd
Star-Tribune Staff Writer
Link to story

Region: Wyoming
Tribe: Wind River
Issue: Secretary of Education apologized for disproportionate effect on tribal communities of sequester.
Programs: Impact Aid, Department of Education and Bureau of Indian Affairs and Education in the Department of Interior
• To brace for the sequester’s 5 percent reductions, health programs on the Wind River Indian Reservation stopped hiring.
• Preschool and day care services cut hours.
• School districts faced more than $500,000 in budget reductions.
• $126 million in budget cuts on the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which in conjunction with tribal governments, finances child welfare, schools and law enforcement, among other services, for 566 federally recognized tribes nationwide.

Sequestration Cuts Shorten Head Start Year
August 28, 2013
By Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska - Juneau |
Alaska Public Media

State: Alaska
Tribe: Tlingit and Haida
Program: Head Start
Importance: Research has shown that socializing children, getting them used to routines, getting them used to playing with other children, and relating with other adults … increases their language base, (which) really helps children when they enter into the public school system.
Head Start also provides preschoolers with breakfast and lunch, and teaches them basic hygiene, such as brushing their teeth. Some don’t get that at home.

• The program will delay opening three weeks due to budget cuts.
• That affects about 260 children at 15 centers in nine cities: Angoon, Craig, Klawock, Saxman, Hoonah, Petersburg, Wrangell, Juneau and Sitka.
• The budget cuts will reduce classroom days by close to 10 percent. It will also lower hours – and pay – for Tlingit-Haida 55 staffers.
• The three-week delay could force some parents to choose another place.
• Officials say flat funding doesn’t keep up with inflation. A number of grants are no longer available, and that’s hurt the program too.
• Staffers are also trained to spot physical or behavioral problems best addressed at an early age.
• Staffers help identify any potential issues that might hold them up later on with their schooling – hearing tests, eye tests and other, more severe types of disabilities.

Sequestration Impacts Tlingit & Haida Head Start
August 8, 2013
Tlingit & Haida Press Release

State: Alaska
Tribe: Tlingit and Haida
Program: Head Start
• The September 2013 start date for all Tlingit & Haida Head Start Classrooms and Douglas Home Based Options will be delayed due to budget cuts of 5.27% caused by the automatic budget cuts from the sequestration that went into effect March 1, 2013. The first day of class will be September 23, 2013 instead of September 3, 2013.
• All employees are impacted by the cuts including administrative staff who will be taking leave without pay over the summer months and between now and the end of December.
• Most of the families served by Head Start meet the income guidelines of being at or below the poverty level; and for many children and families Head Start provides access to resources beyond the educational benefit of being in a learning environment with their three and four year old peers. All children entering the program are screened by health and dental professionals and they receive developmental screening to determine how they are developing socially, emotionally and cognitively.
• These services are important in helping the children and families by preparing them for the next steps of entering public school ready to learn. How each child is doing in all phases of their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical wellbeing, and how well they relate to their overall environment are critical in future success. Tlingit & Haida Head Start also stresses the importance of good nutrition and provides healthy meals that, for many, might be their only meals of the day. Perhaps most importantly, Tlingit & Haida Head Start encourages parent involvement in the education of their children.

Contact: Albert Rinehart, Tlingit & Haida Head Start Director
Direct: 907.463.7150 | Toll Free: 1.800.344.1432 ext. 7150

Oregon Tribes Turn to Cover Oregon to Offset Health Service Cuts
August 7, 2013
By: Christopher David Gray
The Lund Report
Link to story

State: Oregon
Tribe: Oregon Tribes
Program: Indian Health Service
Issues: Oregon’s nine tribes struck a deal with Cover Oregon for increased private insurance access, but it remains to be seen if all private insurers will contract with Indian health providers. Because of historic shortfalls in funding, tribal members who could afford it have long sought additional insurance either through their employer or on the private market. But often those private insurers wouldn’t offer contracts to their tribal health providers, so any reimbursement has fallen back on the Indian Health Service.
Article respects trust relationship: “Healthcare has been a right guaranteed to Indian tribes since the federal government took away most of their land in the 19th century. But the Indian Health Service, set up to provide for them, has been chronically under-funded, often only able to cover basic and emergency care.” And “While Medicare and Medicaid have been exempt from the budget cuts that took effect in March 2013, the Indian Health Service has not.”
• The deep and capricious cuts of federal sequestration have further devastated the [IHs] system.
• In Oregon, it’s been a $15 million loss, out of a budget of about $290 million, forcing some tribes to reduce service hours, pare back non-essential care and cut employees.
• Dr. Sharon Stanphill, the director of the clinic for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, said the sequestration could not have come at a worse time, as the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians just opened a second clinic in Canyonville, 25 miles south of its main clinic in Roseburg.
• The launch of Oregon’s health insurance exchange, Cover Oregon, has given a new opportunity for Indian health providers to seek contracts and reimbursement for private carriers. The insurance exchanged worked with Oregon’s nine recognized Indian tribes to craft the “Indian Addendum,” which is a streamlined template that insurance carriers must use if they contract with federally recognized Indian health providers for qualified health plans. “The sequestration took away our funding, and we’re having to go after other types of resources,” said Dr. Sharon Stanphill, the director of the clinic for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, which has locations in Roseburg and Canyonville.

Sequestration hits Indian Country's mental health services
July 25, 2013
by Laurel Morales
Marketplace, American Public Media
Link to story and radio audio

States: National, Arizona
Tribe: Navajo Nation
Program: mental health services
Issues: suicide rates
Article respects trust relationship: “Centuries ago, tribes gave up much of their land to the federal government in exchange for promises of funded health care, education and housing. Time and time again those funds have been cut. The sequestration has been no exception. Even though suicide rates are nearly four times the national average, Indian country’s mental health services have been hit.  The National Congress of American Indians says sequestration undermines American-Indian treaty rights, and makes a dire situation even worse.
• Because of sequestration, Pine Ridge will not be able to hire two mental health care providers, even though since the beginning of the year, there have been 100 suicide attempts in 110 days on the reservation.
• Etsitty, a behavioral health counselor with the Navajo Nation, says the tribe needs more licensed therapists and facilities, especially for kids. But every time he proposes something that costs money, he’s shut down.
• Etsitty points out the reservation stretches across three states, but the tribe only has one facility for teens. That means families have to travel a hundred miles or more to get help for their kids.

Five Directions, tribal youth treatment center closing
July 21, 2013
Herald and News
Link to story

Tribes: Klamath Tribes
State: Oregon (serving Natives from Washington and Idaho too)
Program: Indian Health Service, alcohol and drug treatment center
Issues: “Five Directions offered specific, cultural programs for Native residents. Alcohol and substance abuse rates are higher in Native populations. Bringing in the cultural piece teaches the youth to respect their environment and themselves. Once they respect themselves, they’re more likely to buy into the Western interventions as well.”
• Five Directions, an alcohol and drug treatment center for Native American teens run by the Klamath Tribes, is closing.
• Lack of funding is the reason for the closure, Gallagher said. Reduced funding from the federal Indian Health Service and the federal sequester meant the program is no longer viable. The Klamath Tribes is not in a financial position to fund the treatment center itself.
• It was one of 11 such centers nationwide. It served Natives from Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
• Without Five Directions, the closest treatment center for local youth is in Spokane, Wash.
• Klamath Tribal Health will have to lay off six to eight employees. The rest of the staff will be absorbed into the health center, some to the Youth and Family Guidance Center, the outpatient clinic that will be expanded to compensate for Five Directions’ closure.
• Gallagher said outpatient treatment services will increase to nine hours per week, as opposed to the one to two hours per week available now. The outpatient clinic serves both youth and adults.

Sequestration Hammers Neediest Schools With Staff Cuts, Closures
July 19, 2013
Think Progress blog
Link to story

Program: Impact Aid
• Teacher layoffs, cuts to technology and building services, fewer extracurricular activities, and shoddier bus service are among the consequences schools reported to NAFIS.

St. Stephens Indian School cuts jobs and salaries during sequester
July 18, 2013
By Ron Feemster
Link to story

Tribe: Wind River Indian Reservation
State: Wyoming
Program: Bureau of Indian Education, Interior
• Even before the sequester began in March 2013, two things were in short supply at St Stephens Indian School: federal funding, and information about when that funding was coming.
• The school’s funding was cut 5.96 percent from 2011-12 levels when the sequester began in March 2013. This year, the school is budgeting for an additional eight percent cut.
• To make ends meet without cutting too deeply into reserves, St. Stephens is eliminating jobs and cutting salaries. So far, they have turned two paraprofessional jobs into part-time positions, laid off a custodian and cut six teaching assistants.
• But with 243 students in 13 grades, they have little duplication of jobs. With one teacher for each elementary school grade and one each for sciences, math, and social studies in middle school, they cannot cut many teachers. Two teachers were asked to change assignments. All of them, like Hejtmanek himself, took a seven to eight percent cut in pay to help keep the school open.
• The school also cut expenses by raising deductibles and premiums on the school health insurance plan.
• Two teachers have left for jobs in the public schools since the sequester took effect, but the rest seem ready to stick it out, Hejtmanek said.
• The state and federal funding together added up to a $5.6 million budget in the 2011-12 school year, with $4.6 million coming from the BIE. In 2012-13, the school budgeted for $5.2 million. But instead of the expected $4.2 million from federal coffers, the actual cash made available during the last school year was $3.5 million. “It’s hard to run the school on $3.5 million or $4.5 million in federal funding” said Swiderski. “It’s getting quite tight.”
• The school had been careful with money for years. It dipped into reserves and made up the shortfall. So far, it has continued to provide the full range of services to students.
• “We probably have enough to withstand six percent cuts for another few years, although we would have to make some hard choices,” Hejtmanek said.


Abandoned in Indian Country
July 23, 2013
New York Times, Editorial Board


It’s an old American story: malign policies hatched in Washington leading to pain and death in Indian country. It was true in the 19th century. It is true now, at a time when Congress, heedless of its solemn treaty obligations to Indian tribes, is allowing the across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester to threaten the health, safety and education of Indians across the nation.

Pain on the Reservation
July 12, 2013, New York Times
By Annie Lowery

Tribes: Pine Ridge, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan, Navajo Nation
States: South Dakota, Michigan, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah
Noteworthy themes: poor condition of facilities, infrastructure, impact on impoverished communities, broken treaty promises
Acknowledges Trust Responsibility:
“The tribes contend that the federal government does not just disburse money to them through federal programs. It meets its nation-to-nation treaty obligation to provide certain services to American Indians. Viewed in that light, a cut is not just a cut but a broken legal promise, and one in a long line of them.” And “it is just one of dozens of cuts the tribe is stomaching, many of them caused by the mandatory federal budget reductions known as sequestration. When Congress approved legislation for the budget cuts, which went into effect on March 1, they specifically exempted many programs that benefit low-income Americans, including Medicaid, tax credits for working families and food stamps. But virtually none of the programs aiding American Indians — including money spent through the departments of interior, education, health and human services and agriculture — were included on that list.”
Programs: Housing Improvement Program (DOI), meals for elderly, school budget, Head Start, IHS, police force
Community wide problems
• “More people sick; fewer people educated; fewer people getting general assistance; more domestic violence; more alcoholism,” said Richard L. Zephier, the executive director of the Oglala Sioux tribe. “That’s all correlated to the cuts from sequestration.”
Critical Governmental Services, Disproportionate Revenue from Federal Trust Responsibility
• Over all, the tribe’s budget is about $80 million a year, of which $70 million comes from federal sources, said Mason Big Crow, the tribe’s treasurer. The tribe still did not know how much money it would lose, waiting on word from Washington, he said, but the number would be in the millions.
• The tribe [Pine Ridge] is cutting the size of a program that delivers meals to the elderly, many of whom are housebound. The school budget, Head Start program and health service are shrinking, too. The tribe has no choice but to cut everywhere.
• The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe: “We put in about 50 percent of our financing, and the federal government puts in about 50 percent,” Mr. Payment said. “But we’re only meeting about 60 percent of our need to begin with.”
Public Safety
• Despite the reservation’s extraordinary problems with crime — alcohol and methamphetamine abuse are rampant, many of the tribe’s youth are involved in gangs — its police force is absorbing more than a million dollars in cuts. The force has already absorbed a cut of more than 6 percent, he said. This autumn, it will cut another 8 percent.
Education, Impact Aid
• In the Navajo Nation, Deborah Jackson-Dennison, the superintendent of the Window Rock Unified School District, is in the process of reducing the school budget to about $17 million, from about $24 million, absorbing a cut from sequestration as well as from the local government. “It’s like getting two black eyes at once,” she said. She has let go of 14 employees, and moved the school district down to four buildings from seven.

Broken Promises
July 11, 2013
New York Times Editorial


“I believe that American Indian children are the country’s most at-risk population. Too many live in third-world conditions. A few weeks ago, I traveled to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It’s hard just to get there. A two-hour drive from Rapid City brings you to Shannon County, the second poorest county in the United States.

The proud nation of Sioux Indians who live there — like many of the 566 federally recognized tribes — have a treaty with the United States, the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which promised that their health care, education and housing needs would be provided for by the federal government.

Tribal leaders, parents and some inspiring children I’ve met make valiant efforts every day to overcome unemployment, endemic poverty, historical trauma and a lack of housing, educational opportunity and health care.

But these leaders and communities are once again being mistreated by a failed American policy, this time going under the ugly name “sequestration.” This ignorant budget maneuvering requires across-the-board spending cuts to the most important programs along with the least important. American Indian kids living in poverty are paying a very high price for this misguided abandonment of Congressional decision-making.”

Your sequester: Schools in Indian country face severe cuts
June 14, 2013
By Bianca Prieto, Digital First Media

Tribe: Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara
State: North Dakota
Program: Impact Aid
Agency: Department of Education
Possible school closure
• The 264 students who fill the seats at Parshall Elementary School and Parshall High School, situated on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, are facing the threat of relocation. A significant population of the students at the school are Native American and many come from low-income families, a school official said.
• Mandatory federal budget reductions are cutting hundreds of thousands of dollars from federal impact aid given to the Parshall School District and will create a deficit of about $254,000 next school year. The federal money represents roughly 20 percent of the Parshall School District's annual budget.
• If the cuts continue, the school district could be forced to close in a few years.
• The North Dakota oil boom has attracted new residents and business to town. The small downtown area saw the construction of two new buildings for the first time in nearly three decades last year. But none of those buildings in town pay property taxes because they are built on land owned by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.
School Closure Could Spur Families Leaving Town
• The school closures could devastate the growth the town has seen in the past three years.
• "Where would the kids go?" Zieman questions. The nearest city is Minot, about an hour east of town. "Lots of people would move away. Whether or not there is money to be made in the oil fields, if you can't send your kids to school you're not going to stay here."

Money even tighter as Indian Country schools face sequestration
May 23, 2013
By Laurel Morales

Tribes: Navajo
Region: Southwest
Program: Impact Aid
Background: $60 million cut to program
Issues: Schools are already in poor shape, needing new bathrooms and safer playground equipment.
Urgent Upgrades Delayed
• Begay walked past the Tuba City High School gym where sun shines through the holes in the ceiling. At the nearby primary school one wing and a cafeteria have already been condemned. That building is in desperate need of new bathrooms and safe playground equipment. But those upgrades will have to wait.
Open Positions Remain Vacant
• The school has seven open positions due to attrition. But sequestration means she will have to leave those vacant.
Teachers Buying Their Own Supplies
• Teachers said in addition to larger classes, they will have to buy scissors, crayons and other supplies themselves.
Underfunding Hurting Teacher Morale
• Superintendent Begay said all this has a big effect on teachers’ attitudes. "When you have an unreliable revenue flow, always being underfunded, to say that it hurts morale is putting it mildly," Begay said.

Every Native American Child Left Behind: Sequester Guts Indian Education
June 1, 2013,
By Tanya Lee

Tribes: Catawba, Navajo Nation, Siletz
States: South Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon
Program: Head Start
South Carolina, Catawba
• At the Catawba Indian Nation Head Start in South Carolina, the sequester is devastating her program. “Right now, we’re downsizing from five days of service to four days for the summer.”
• We’re concerned about meals. We serve two meals a day. On Fridays, will the children have a meal? Will they be watched by siblings or adults? Every weekend this summer will be a three-day weekend and we’re not sure the children’s basic health and safety needs will be met.
Oregon, Siletz Tribe
• The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon’s Head Start program director of the program, DeAnn Brown, says they will close one week early this year and start two days later next, and they will need to cut supplies to classrooms and teacher training dollars.
• Looking to FY14, “We hope there are no further cuts. As it is, we still don’t serve all the kids we could. Further cuts would impact our enrollment. We hope there aren’t any.”

Forced cuts threaten to 'rip apart' Native American schools
May 31, 2013
By Dan Merica, CNN

Tribes: Navajo – Gallup-McKinley School District
States: New Mexico,
Program: Impact Aid
Agency: Department of Education

Tribe: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
States: North Dakota, South Dakota
Programs: Tribal Colleges
Agency: Department of Interior

Elementary Schools, Gallup McKinley
• "We have approximately 12,000 students and about 9,000 Native American students in the district," Arsenault said. "Because of those high numbers, percentage wise we are impacted much more."
• Impact Aid, the Department of Education program that provides funds to offset money that would have come from property taxes, has been used to partially fund the school district.
• For Gallup-McKinley, Impact Aid makes up around 35% of the district's budget.
• "The bottom line," Arsenault said "is why should the poorest people in the United States have to pay" for Washington's gridlock.
• Distance between schools -- in Arsenault's case, his furthest school is 103 miles away -- means that consolidating programs is not possible. In most rural school districts, students bus vast distances already.
• In Arsenault's case, because New Mexico law does not mandate librarians at all school sites, the Gallup-McKinley school will likely slash library budgets in the coming year. "If it were a larger system, you can absorb some of the cuts," Arsenault said. "We can't consolidate programs because of the great distances involved."
Tribal Colleges
• On the shore of the Missouri River, Sitting Bull College is also feeling the pain of forced budget cuts.
• Positions at the school -- like academic counselors and vocational trainers -- have been left vacant as the school is unable to fill them because of the possible cuts.
• Sitting Bull's three campuses, one in North Dakota and two in South Dakota, serve around 320 students a year, most of who are from the local Sioux tribe.

Sequester Cuts Gut Schools Serving Neediest Students
May 28
By Kelsey Sheehy
US News and World Report, Education blog

Tribe: Red Lake Nation, Navajo
State: Minnesota, Arizona
Programs: Impact Aid, Title I
Red Lake Independent School District – Delayed Repairs and Fewer Security Guards
• While cuts were billed as across-the-board, some high schools are being pinched harder – and sooner – than others. Schools near military bases and Indian reservations, and those serving large numbers of low-income students, have been hit hardest.
• "We're at bare bones now," says Roy Nelson, a school board member in the Red Lake Independent School District in Minnesota
• Federal funding made up 38 percent of the district's budget last year, he says. The majority of that coming from Impact Aid – funds allocated to schools that serve Native American students and children of military service members – and Title I funds, which goes to schools serving a high percentage of low-income students.
• This triggered an abrupt drop in funding for Red Lake schools, to the tune of $1.6 million, Nelson says.
• To cope, the district laid off seven teachers, delayed building repairs and routine maintenance and reduced the number of security guards at Red Lake High School.
Navajo Nation, Window Rock Unified School District – Slashed Bus Routes
• Debbie Jackson-Dennison, superintendent of the Window Rock Unified School District in Arizona, told the Washington Post in March that she would cut 65 positions by the end of May. All of the students at Window Rock High School, the district's only secondary school, are Native American and 56 percent are considered low-income.
• The rural district also slashed school bus routes, and may shutter three of its seven schools, the Post reported. Almost 60 percent of the district's funding comes from federal aid.

Sequestration Forces Indian Land, Military Base Schools To Make Drastic Cuts
May 20, 2013
By Amanda Terkel
Huffington Post
Link to story

Tribes: Fond du Lac Ojibwe, Standing Rock Sioux
States: South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana
Programs: Impact Aid
Standing Rock Sioux School – No More Summer School, No Buses for After School Activities
• Keith McVay is superintendent at the McLaughlin School District in northern South Dakota, which educates a large number of American Indian students. Until last year, the district offered summer school, like so many others do around the country. But McVay just doesn't have the resources to do so anymore, thanks to sequestration, and the program has been eliminated.
• The school also used to have a bus to take students home after sports practice -- some children live 20-25 miles away -- but that service is now also gone.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe School in MN – staff layoffs, limited salaries, difficult to hire quality teachers
• "The last thing you want your teachers to do is be concerned about getting a paycheck," said Mike Rabideaux, superintendent of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School in Minnesota, who has already had to lay off staff. He added that even in the best of times, it's tough to hire quality employees because the school is limited in what it can offer for salaries; sequestration is compounding that problem.
Exacerbating Already High Unemployment
• Brent Gish, executive director of the National Indian Impacted Schools Association, said that cuts to school support staff -- who come from the native communities they serve -- is simply increasing an unemployment rate that often exceeds 50 percent in some areas.
• "Many times these support staff are the primary breadwinner in the families," he said. "So we are taking an independent family and saying, 'No, you're unemployed, and you've become dependent on this other system [federal unemployment benefits]."

‘We May Have To Close Schools’: Five Districts That Are Grappling With Sequestration’s Budget Cuts
May 20, 2013,
Think Progress Blog
Link to story

Tribes: Navajo, Blackfeet, Standing Rock Sioux
States: Arizona, Montana, South Dakota
Programs: Impact Aid, Title programs
• While many public schools will be able to stave off some of the harshest impacts of sequestration with other sources of revenue, those that serve military families and Native American communities are in a much more difficult situation. That’s because they rely heavily on federal Impact Aid. That money goes to schools on or near military bases and Native American reservations that don’t collect as much in tax revenues as other public schools to help fill the gap.
Navajo, Arizona – cutting 65 staff positions
• The Window Rock Unified School District in Arizona gets just under 60 percent of its funding from federal aid. This year it eliminated about 65 staff positions through attrition and cut down its buildings from seven to four. If sequestration continues, it will have to close schools, many of which are in areas of high unemployment and poverty.
Blackfeet Tribe, Montana – No Repairs, May Layoff Teachers
• Heart Butte in Montana, which gets over half of its funding from the federal government, cuts have forced the district to hold off on all repairs this school year. That means that there are leaks, no hot water, roofs that need patching, buses in neglect, and a playground that doesn’t comply with regulations. The school needs to install new doors and safety gates, but that is also on hold. If things don’t improve it may have to lay off teachers.
Fort Belknap, Montana – Vacant Counseling Spots, Cuts to Paraprofessionals, Secretaries, Cooks
• The Hays/Lodge Pole school district in Montana, which is losing more than half of its budget, is unable to fill a counseling spot even as youth suicides are on the rise. It also had to cut paraprofessionals, all secretaries but one, and cooks’ helpers. After next year, school officials say there will be nothing left to cut.
Standing Rock Sioux, South Dakota – Staff Cuts and Cuts to Music Program, P.E. and Admin
• The McLaughlin Independent School District in South Dakota, which gets two-thirds of its budget from federal funding, has already implemented changes for the current school year: reducing staff to one teacher per classroom for grades three through five and cuts to the music program, P.E., and administrative positions. If Congress doesn’t end sequestration, it will have to close schools.

Sequestration Squeeze
May 5, 2013

Tribes: Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
State: Oregon
Program: Indian Health Service
Treaty References: “’Just look at the Treaty of 1855 with Walla Walla, Cayuse and Umatilla tribes, Gilbert said. Local tribes gave up 6.4 million acres in exchange for various rights, one being healthcare services. ‘The treaty represents a federal trust responsibility. Tribal members feel like if you reduce us, you are breaking the Treaty of 1855.’”
• The clinic gets about $1.75 million by billing third-party insurance and other funding from various small state and federal grants, but the bulk comes through the Indian Health Service. That amount — about $7 million before sequestration — stays relatively flat, Gilbert said. “Meanwhile, the cost of providing healthcare continues going up,” he said, moving his right hand in a 45-degree trajectory to the sky. Yellowhawk has about 3,500 active users — about 2,900 CTUIR members and the rest registered with other federally recognized tribes.
• As with most other reservations, tribal members face more poverty and health challenges than the general population. In 2011, the poverty rate for all reservation American Indians and Alaska Natives hovered at 40 percent. The clinic has hired an outreach worker who will work to locate and help eligible patients to sign up for Medicaid and the Oregon Health Plan. While many tribal hospitals and health centers must furlough employees, freeze hiring and cut programs, Gilbert said Yellowhawk intends to keep services in place and make up the difference with more aggressive third-party billing. He hopes the drop in funding won’t go beyond this year.

Contact Kathy Aney at or 541-966-0810.

Sequester Starts In Impact SD's Reservations
May 2, 2013

Tribe: Rosebud Sioux Tribe
State: South Dakota
Program: Head Start
Agency: Health and Human Services
• The sequester in Washington will soon start to impact head start programs on the state's Indian reservations. Head start is the largest tribal program on the Rosebud Reservation and serves more than 300 children.
Head Start Administration Will Take Two Week Furloughs, Teachers on Leave for 7 Days
• To cope with a cut of nearly $130,000, the tribe's head start administration will take a two week furlough this summer. Teachers in Rosebud's 16 classrooms will also be on leave for seven days during the 2013-2014 school year. But the move won't affect the amount of time students will spend in the centers. Instead, teachers will miss in-service days.

Indian Nations Squeezed By Sequester
March 26, 2013
Tell Me More, NPR
Host: Michele Martin

Tribes: National
Programs: Impact Aid, Tribal Colleges
Issues: Trust and Treaty Obligations