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Day one: A dramatic restructuring of government, budget cuts ahead

January 23, 2017 - 10:44am

Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports

President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration weekend: Pomp and circumstance. Pettiness and chaos. Huge crowds of supporters. And even larger crowds from the Women’s March in cities and small towns around the world.

If this is day one, remember there are fourteen hundred and fifty-nine to go.

The size of the marches must have been too much for the president’s ego. His press secretary took stage to denounce the media in an angry tirade.

Off-stage the Trump White House was preparing “dramatic budget cuts,” according to The Hill newspaper. The Hill learned of the cuts because senior White House officials have begun telling agency budget officers to prepare for a restructuring of government.

The plan calls for a reduction of $10.5 trillion in spending over the next decade. Except the Trump plan calls for an increase in military spending meaning that domestic programs would have to take even bigger cuts in order to reach the total. One projection: Agency budgets would be cut by at least 10 percent and overall the size of the federal workforce would shrink by 20 percent.

The framework for these spending cuts was developed by the Heritage Foundation and the House Republican Study Committee.

Heritage recommends deep immediate cuts to reach “primary balance” in the budget the first year of the new administration. (Primary balance does not include net interest.)

The Heritage plan calls for elimination of the Violence Against Women Act funding by the Department of Justice, community policing programs, and legal aid. The conservative think-tank says those programs are a “misuse of federal resources and a distraction from concerns that are truly the province of the federal government.”

Tribal governments receive Justice Department grants both in programs directed at tribes and those that are in the broader category of funding for states and tribes.

The Heritage framework proposes a radical restructuring of Indian education programs. It calls for the creation of Education Savings Accounts for students who attend Bureau of Indian Education Schools. That funding would equal 90 percent of the per pupil funding formula. The idea is that students could use this money at any school, including private ones. “Such an option would provide a lifeline to the 48,000 children currently trapped in BIE schools which have been deemed the ‘worst schools in America.'”

The idea stems from a Heritage Issue Brief on Education by Lindsey Burke. The paper says “it’s appropriate for Congress to seriously consider ways to improve the education offered to Native American children living on or near reservations. Instead of continuing to funnel $830 million per year to schools that are failing to adequately serve these children, funds should be made accessible to parents via an education savings account, enabling families to choose options that work for them and that open the doors of educational opportunity.”

The report doesn’t not address what private alternatives, or even what the public school options, are available in remote reservations communities.
Another radical restructuring plan involves Indian housing programs. The Heritage Blueprint calls for a phasing out of subsidized housing programs over the next decade. “States should determine how and to what extent they will replace these subsidized housing programs with alternatives designed and funded by state and local authorities,” Heritage said.

All Indian housing programs, or what’s left of those programs after budget cuts, would be transferred to the Department of the Interior.

The Heritage Blueprint calls for more tribal authority over fracking, limiting the regulatory oversight by the Department of the Interior or other federal agencies.

The Heritage plan would eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcast. Energy programs that focus on renewable energy and climate change would also be gone.

The Heritage Blueprint does not address appropriations for either the Indian Health Service or the Bureau of Indian Affairs. However The Hill reports one of the architects for the budget is reportedly a former staffer for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky. Paul proposed a budget in 2012 that would eliminate the Bureau of Indian Affairs and slash the Indian Health Service budget by 20 percent.

The Heritage Blueprint does not address Medicaid spending but House conservatives have routinely called for that program to become a block grant for states.

One difference between the Heritage plan and early reports about the Trump transition team is that entitlement programs would not be subject to budget cuts. Yet all of the plans call for more money for military spending. That puts all the burden on domestic programs, an idea that is unlikely to work.

The official Trump budget proposals are expected within 45 days, according to The Hill. That budget would then go to Congress for debate and approval.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports

Reposting or reprinting this column? Please credit: Mark Trahant / TrahantReports.com

Native News Update January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017 - 1:35pm
This weekend's stories:  Obama appoints two Native American leaders to the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native children; American Indian rights lawyer, Larry Leventhal passes away; Leonard Peltier denied clemency; American Indian film festival coming to the east coast; Buffy Sainte-Marie to be recognized for her humanitarian efforts.

Native News Update with anchor Kimberlie Acosta from the studios of IndianCountryTV.com.

Native News Update January 13, 2017

January 13, 2017 - 8:51pm
This weekend's stories:  Kimball Village Site designated a National Historic Landmark; Cherokee Nation food program receives smoothie grant; Native American lawyer receives American Bar Association national award; Matilda Brooks dreams of becoming first federally recognized Native American woman to go into space; Leonardo DiCaprio’s foundation donates to Bears Ears Community Engagement Fund.

Native News Update with anchor Kimberlie Acosta from the studios of IndianCountryTV.com.

Native News Update January 6, 2017

January 6, 2017 - 7:20pm
This weekend's stories:  Bad River band denies renewal of Enbridge line 5 grant of easement; Kellytown site renamed Aaittafama; Funds available to change school mascots in Michigan; Chris Benge named Oklahoma’s state secretary of Native American Affairs; Glacier National Park passes to feature first Native American ranger.

Native News Update with anchor Kimberlie Acosta from the studios of IndianCountryTV.com.

3 Video Highlights from the 2016 Honor The Earth Pow Wow

January 4, 2017 - 8:16pm
Join IndianCountryTV and the 2016 Honor Earth Pow wow on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Reservation for 3 special programs. #1 Saturday afternoon Grand Entry, a tribute to Anishinaabkwe (Woman) of the Year, Judy Martin and the Hand Drum contest finals. The Honor The Earth Pow Wow is held the 3rd weekend of each July and is sponsored by the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Tribe and the Honor The Earth Education Foundation.

My Journey at Standing Rock by Cody Looking Horse

December 31, 2016 - 7:12pm
By CODY LOOKING HORSE
Cannonball River, North Dakota (NFIC)

My name is Cody Looking horse, I am Haudenosaunee and Lakota, Sioux and my mother is Dawn Martin-Hill and she is Mohawk Professor at McMaster University. My mom was the first native woman in Canada to get her PhD in cultural anthropology.

Native News Update December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016 - 10:28pm
This weekend's stories:  Obama designates two new national monuments; Gov’t expands criminal database access for tribes; Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions enters joint venture with Department of Commerce; National Native American Veterans Memorial plans underway; Bronson Koenig realizes he is Native American role model after visiting Standing Rock.

It ain’t easy being Indian… (December 2016)

December 27, 2016 - 5:12pm
By Ricey Wild
News From Indian Country   
To begin to understand what happened with this farce of an election that voted in the most monstrous of human beings to be the leader of the free world I have to share some of my musings of history with you.

Native News Update December 23, 2016

December 23, 2016 - 9:40pm
This weekend's stories:  Faith Spotted Eagle becomes the first Native American to win an electoral vote for President; Shannon McDaniel appointed to the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching; Gabe Gland continues his fight against tribes dis-enrolling members; Tina Glory-Jordan receives lawyer of the year award; Joanne Shenandoah releases new Christmas album.

Christmas is coming

December 23, 2016 - 6:49pm
By Arne Vainio, M.D. News From Indian Country
“I always miss her, but Christmas is the worst.”
“She was working in a café when I first saw her. She had dark hair and she was quick to laugh and I just stopped in for the special. They had something different every day and the hamburger steak they had was so tough I could hardly cut it. They could have served me cardboard and I would have been fine as long as she brought it to me.”

Native News Update December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016 - 8:07pm
This weekend's stories:  St. Regis Mohawk Tribe take down Hogansburg Hydroelectric Dam; PWNA receives grant from Newman’s Own Foundation; AMG launches mobile device apps focusing on Native American films; FNX TV network opens in New Mexico markets; Sequoyah featured on reverse side of the 2017 Native American $1 coin.

Tending the Wild - KCET Media Group

December 15, 2016 - 4:17pm
On-air, online, and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California.

Corporate Accountability and the Enbridge Pipelines of the Great Lakes

December 14, 2016 - 10:01am

 - Enbridge is a major Partner in Dakota Access -

By Winona LaDuke
News From Indian Country Guest Perspective

Enbridge is going to need to do some accounting for us all. When Enbridge announced the cancellation of the proposed Sandpiper pipeline, after a four year battle in Minnesota, they bought a 28% interest in the ill fated Dakota Access pipeline.

Oceti Sakowin - Sacred Stone Camp - December 2016

December 10, 2016 - 9:08pm

Veterans from the United States and around the world descended upon the Oceti Sakowin (Sacred Stone) camp north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to protect thousands of Indigenous and environmental water protectors, set to prevent a billionaire's oil pipeline project, called Dakota Access from drilling under the Missouri river.

Native News Update December 9, 2016

December 10, 2016 - 12:45am
This weekend's stories:  Water Protectors continue to winterize; Sherman Alexie’s novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” to be made into a movie; Native American firefighting crews help battle the wildfires in Tennessee; The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe receives the ‘Spirit Cave Mummy’ for reburial; Ocmulgee National Monument designated as a National Treasure.

Standing Rock Tribe defied history; what happens next is anything but inevitable

December 6, 2016 - 4:52pm
By Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has defied history.

Nearly two years ago the Dakota Access Pipeline and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the tribe about an inevitable pipeline that would cross near their reservation and within treaty lands. The tribe objected. But it was inevitable. A done deal.

A powerful idea about Standing Rock: The Rule of Law

November 29, 2016 - 9:47pm
Four words that still matter

The Beginning is Near: The Deep North, Evictions and Pipeline Deadlines

November 28, 2016 - 11:21pm

By Winona LaDuke
Special to News From Indian Country and everybody else

 Standing Rock is an unpredicted history lesson for all of us. More than any moment I recall since Wounded Knee, the Vietnam War, or the time of Martin Luther King, this moment stands as a crossroads in the battle for social justice. It is also an economic issue, in a time of economic system transformation, and profoundly a question of the future of this land. The world is watching.

Native News Update November 25, 2016

November 25, 2016 - 3:01pm
This weekend's stories:  A call for veterans to deploy to Standing Rock; Native American monument in Corpus Christi; Oil company surrenders drilling  leases in Blackfeet territory; Three tribes come together to purchase land near Bear Butte; Chickasaw astronaut releases children book.

Native News Update with anchor Kimberlie Acosta from the studios of IndianCountryTV.com.




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It ain’t easy being Indian… (November 2016)

November 23, 2016 - 5:59pm
By Ricey Wild News From Indian Country   
I’ve had a difficult time beginning this column but I feel I have to address what is so disgusting to me and draining on my spirit. The rape culture commentary in Trump and Billy Bush’s tape from 2005 has brought all my raw emotions to the fore of having been raped myself and my immediate family members having been raped and victimized by close friends.

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