Government shutdown harms vulnerable Native Americans

The following article discusses the impact that the government shutdown is having on Native Americans:

No roads link the tiny town of Fort Yukon, Alaska, to the rest of the United States, but that doesn’t mean the federal government shutdown won’t reach the nearly 600 inhabitants, mostly members of the Alaska Native population, who still fish and hunt for subsistence.

Ed Alexander, 36, is second chief of the Gwichyaa Zhee band of Gwich’in Indians who reside there, and he spent most of Tuesday online trying to determine what exactly the shutdown’s impact will be. The timing is terrible for Alaska Native villages, he said, hurting students who have not yet received scholarship money they need for faraway universities and creating unemployment — the government is a core employer — just as people are preparing for an interior Alaska winter.

“It’s going to be 40-below in a month,” Alexander said. “I hope the Republicans get their act together and pass a clean CR (continuing resolution). Everybody’s hoping that. It’s the poorest who are suffering most. That’s what’s happening here.”

The federal government plays a critical role for the 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the 566 federally-recognized tribes, providing key services that include health care, schools, social programs and law enforcement protection, all supported by its long-standing treaty obligations made with Native Americans.

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