The federal government has continually broken treaty promises to tribal nations, according to a damning new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
“Instead of meeting these significant needs with systematically planned and sufficient funding, the nation’s federal response has been haphazard and generally — often wildly — insufficient,” Commissioner Catherine Lhamon said during a press conference announcing the report.
The congressionally-commissioned study found that many indigenous communities have been left without access to clean water, internet and cell phone service. One out of every seven households was without electricity, 10 times the national average.
Lhamon said the Trump administration would cut a combined $2 billion from federal programs in Indian Country as part of its 2019 proposed budget.
“The Trump administration’s budget proposal seeks to end programs with proven track records of success in improving conditions,” she said.
The federal government first began negotiating treaties with indigenous tribes more than two centuries ago. In exchange for millions of acres of land and being forced onto isolated, rural reservations, the United States agreed to help foster safe, quality living conditions.
Federal programs addressing issues in Indian Country were chronically underfunded, the report said. There has been little to no change in government response since the last U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report on Indian Country was released in 2003.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.