Report Finds Inadequate Funding, Unmet Needs

Washington, DC - (Washington, DC) The nation's independent agency charged with monitoring federal civil rights enforcement released a new report on federal programs intended to assist Native Americans. The report uncovers vast unmet needs in Indian Country, including health care, education, public safety, housing, and rural and economic development.

In exchange for land, mining, hunting and fishing rights, and other secessions, the government promised to support and protect its indigenous peoples. However, federal funding has neither been sufficient to operate programs associated with those promises nor to support tribal independence and self-sufficiency.

"Throughout history, Native peoples have endured injustice at the hands of the U.S. government. From forced removal from ancestral lands and confiscation of natural resources to segregation and forced acculturation, federal policies toward Native Americans have resulted in large-scale violations of their civil rights," declared Commission Chairperson Mary Frances Berry.

"A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country" evaluates the budgets and expenditures of the six major federal agencies responsible for Native American programs. The Commission concludes that significant disparities exist between federal funding of programs serving Native Americans and those serving other Americans. The report finds that when inflation is factored in, funding for many individual programs has decreased. Small funding increases in other programs are vastly inadequate to meet the needs of Native American communities.

According to the report, Native Americans rank at or near the bottom of virtually every social, health, and economic indicator. They experience poverty and unemployment rates that are more than twice the national average, have a lower life expectancy than any other group, and are twice as likely as other Americans to experience hunger.

"Federal programs fail to provide the services and funding equal to that which other groups receive, denying equal opportunity to Native Americans," said Berry. "The government must act immediately to reverse this shameful and unjust treatment."

For more information and a copy of the report, contact Danielle Lewis at 202/833-9771.