Government Shutdown Could Impact Some Tribal Operations

The government shutdown means money that tribes rely on is on hold, so some are planning ahead. The government shutdown means money that tribes rely on is on hold, so some are planning ahead. |  Photo: WDIO

Updated: January 02, 2019 06:25 PM

Federal funding that supports tribes across the Northland is in limbo, as the government shutdown rolled through the 12th day on Wednesday. Much of the money was promised generations ago, in exchange for land.


"The federal government has a trust responsibility to the tribes. They need to come together and work on this issue, and come up with a solution, as it's going to affect tribal members," shared Bois Forte tribal chairwoman Cathy Chavers.

She spoke during their Bois Forte tribal council meeting on Wednesday morning at Fortune Bay.

As for their situation, she added, "We will be able to operate until at least the third week of January, maybe the fourth. However, if the shutdown lasts longer than that, we'll need a contingency plan to operate with."

Tribal leaders and management will be meeting on Thursday to discuss that plan, which will include identifying essential services. "Number one is medical care," she added. 

They plan on keeping everyone in the Bois Forte band updated through their website. Another leader said that this situation is a good reminder that they should build a healthy financial reserve.

Fond du Lac's Reservation Business Committee sent this statement: "We haven't seen any immediate impact from the shutdown. In the past, government shutdowns have resulted in cuts to the Band's programs, such as at the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School. If the shutdown continues, we expect that we will face similar problems in the near future."

And last week, the Red Cliff tribal chairman, Rick Peterson, said in a newsletter, "At this time, myself and the Red Cliff Tribal Council would like to inform you all that there will be no interruption of services provided by any Red Cliff Tribal department or division. This includes the Red Cliff Community Health Center and Early Childhood Center." But he added if the shutdown is prolonged, things could change.

A New York Times article published on New Year's Day said one tribe in the Upper Peninsula wasn't getting $100,000 a day in terms of funding.

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