President Obama Meets with Tribal Leaders
GREEN BAY, WI--The fiscal cliff is threatening Native American tribes like the Oneidas. With big spending cuts on the horizon, President Obama met with close to 500 tribal leaders in Washington Wednesday, including a representative from the Oneida Nation tribe to hear their concerns.
Local Oneida tribal members say their healthcare , public safety and education funding are all at risk if lawmakers can't find a solution. Tribal members say they're watching closely as the fiscal cliff talks unfold.
The Oneida Community Health Center serves 14 thousand people a year. They say one third of the center's funding comes from the federal government. Oneida Nation Vice Chairman Greg Matson, worries about the center's future.
"Now is the time the action needs to be taken and that needs to be positive action," said Matson.
Matson says Oneida Nation schools and Oneida law enforcement would also take a hit. Just last week, tribal nations sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to consider what cuts to the quote already "miniscule" funding for tribal programs would mean.
It says "An 8.2% across the board cut would mean deep cuts to critical tribal programs and will disproportionately impact already vulnerable native communities."
At the White House Tribal Nations summit, President Obama says he's seen progress for Native American communities.
"We've strengthened tribal healthcare and made it more accessible," said the president.
And he says he's committed to ensuring tribal nations continue to thrive.
"We are going to keep working together to make sure that the promise of America is fully realized for every Native American," said President Obama.
Matson hopes the Oneida Nation's voicesa re heard and he's anxious for a resolution to the looming fiscal cliff.
"We know that it is a key element in how we need to set up our budgeting process," said Matson.
According to the National Congress of American Indians, the Indian Health service makes up 0.1 percent of federal spending. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is just 0.07 percent of the federal budget.