By Ryan Heinsius, Arizona Public Radio
Some tribal leaders in the U-S are expressing concern following last week’s election of Republican Donald Trump. They worry some of Trump’s plans for his first hundred days in office could negatively impact Indian Country.
Trump has vowed deep federal spending cuts after he takes the oath of office in January. But some tribal leaders say that could threaten education, housing, healthcare and family service programs that benefit Native Americans. Some of those are protected under federal treaties. Wenona Benally is the Democratic representative-elect for Arizona’s 7th legislative district, which includes the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation.
“When you start to see massive cuts across the board to these types of programs, well that is equivalent to ending the federal trust responsibility with Indian tribes,” Benally said.
Trump has also promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in his first 100 days. The ACA renewed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, and Benally is concerned that could deprive more than 2 million Native Americans of coverage they receive under the law.
Not all Native Americans, however, agree on the federal government’s role in tribal affairs.
A group called the Native American Coalition supported Trump during the campaign and is made up of more than two dozen tribal members. They want to limit the federal government’s reach in Indian Country, and say more local control will enhance tribal sovereignty and economic opportunity.
Markwayne Mullin is the chair of the Coalition and a Republican Oklahoma representative from the state’s Second Congressional District.
“There’s not going to be any changes to the treaty or the trust,” Mullin said. “There’s an agreement that’s been made with the federal government that this administration isn’t going to try to change.
Mullin says some officials and members of Trump’s transition team are working on a way to repeal and replace Obamacare while retaining the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The details of that plan have yet to be worked out.