Government shutdown strains Native American services

Cowlitz Indian Tribe - KATU image

The partial government shutdown - now in the record books as the nation's longest ever - is hurting Native American tribes across the country.

The government guarantees essential services to tribes, but now some of them could disappear. The most basic needs, like healthcare and public safety, all could go by the wayside for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

They're currently living off reserves.

William Iyall, the Chairman of the of the tribe says the first to go is the elderly nutrition and caregiver programs, which will affect up to 100 people. He says grants for domestic violence and sexual assault programs are also drying up; he predicts they only have enough funding to last for another month.

"It's gonna run out if we're looking at a long term battle," he said. "The life ways and livelihood of our families are at great risk if they don't have the healthcare that they need."

Iyall says he's already fielding a lot of calls from concerned tribal members about the status of their programs.

"That's a great risk emotionally to be thinking about your welfare and well-being is at risk because of this shut down," he said.

Iyall says Native Americans were already vulnerable, and worries these programs are at the brink of collapse.

"We're the most under-served population for health care, and that's after promises that has long ago dismissed or forgotten."

He adds, this is the longest they've ever had to live off reserves.

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