WASHINGTON, Feb 14: Native Americans are worried that there may be another US government shutdown because it will affect services like health programs, Chairman of Redding Rancheria Tribal Government Jack Potter told Sputnik.
Rancheria’s comments come less than two days before funding for the US federal government runs out again. President Donald Trump has until Friday to sign a compromise deal negotiated by Democrats and Republicans or another partial shutdown will go into effect.
“Some of the most pressing issues we are facing like with this government shutdown. I believe that if they want to shut the government down, that’s their right but it should never affect any of our health programs, any of our BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] programs. They have treaties and all kind of legislations where they have to deal with us,” Potter said.
The previous shutdown, which lasted a record 35 days, began on December 22 after Democrats refused Trump’s request for $5.7 billion to build a wall on the southern border. The sides agreed to reopen the government for three weeks while negotiating on border security.
If the US federal government, Potter added, wants to stop the funding they are obligated to start talking about giving some land back because the tribes agreed to release title related to issues like education, housing, and healthcare.
“They are talking about shutting [the government] down again because he [Trump] wants to build the wall. It should never affect the first people of this land,” Potter stated. “They should never shut our programs down? we are sovereign nations.”
Potter spoke on the sidelines of the Executive Council Winter Session by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). The Chairman noted that he addressed the issue with NCAI, US congressmen and government officials who attended the conference.
“They say they understand our concerns, but Trump is holding firm. He wants a border wall,” Potter said.
Native Americans, he added, do not like the wall because it cuts through tribal territories. Potter said that there are a lot of indigenous people on the Mexican side as well.
“There’re over seven hundred tribal nations in Mexico. There’re 546 in the United States that the English people settled here. And then the first nations up in Canada where the French settled. All of that was North America. We never had borders,” Potter explained.
The current deal Trump is reviewing only includes $1.3 billion for new fencing in high-traffic areas in the state of Texas. However, Trump has previously threatened to declare a national emergency so the military can build the wall with funds diverted from elsewhere in the federal government.