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Tribal Leaders Worry Trump Presidency Could Hurt Indian Country

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Some U.S. tribal leaders are worried Republican president-elect Donald Trump’s vow of deep spending cuts could negatively affect Indian Country. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports. 

Some tribal leaders say the cuts 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 seventh 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 says.

Trump also promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in his 100-day plan after taking office. The ACA reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, and Benally worries a repeal could affect more than 2 million Native Americans who receive coverage under the law.

Not all tribal members agree on the federal government’s role in tribal affairs, however. A group called the Native American Coalition backed Trump during the campaign. Its members and say more local control will enhance tribal sovereignty and economic opportunity. 

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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