$2.8B Included in Economic Stimulus Package To Help American Indian Communities Improve Health Care, Other Services
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday set aside $2.8 billion in the economic stimulus bill for services for American Indian communities, including health care, schools, infrastructure, law enforcement and water projects, the AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The House version of the bill includes a similar amount and will come to a vote on Wednesday.
The National Congress of American Indians originally requested $6.1 billion in funding, which it said would create more than 50,000 jobs. The unemployment rate on American Indian reservations is twice that of the rest of the country, and eight of the 10 poorest counties in the U.S. are on reservations, according to NCAI. At a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing earlier this month, Julie Kitka, president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, said that American Indian and Native Alaskan communities have been chronically underfunded.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said the $2.8 billion is "not going to allow [American Indians] to catch up, but it's a significant boost." He added, "This is a group of Americans who have been left behind in many of the basic needs of life" (Jalonick, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1/28).