Tribes Decry President Trump's Proposed Budget Cut to Bureau of Indian Affairs

May 14, 2018

Tribes are not happy with President Trump’s proposed 2019 budget for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

"The 2019 president’s budget for Indian Affairs would be a 15.6 percent decrease from the FY2018 CR level. Nearly every line item in the BIA budget would see reductions," said National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel.

BIA's budget under the 2018 continuing resolution was $2.5 billion.

Keel, who is also lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw Nation, said that means nearly every spending area will be cut, and some tribal priorities could be completely done away with.

"Four programs in the top 15 identified by tribes were proposed to be eliminated in the president’s budget: scholarships and adult education, housing improvement program, the Johnson-O’Malley program, and small and needy tribes," Keel said.

The Johnson-O’Malley program directs additional funding to K-through-12 schools with American Indian or Alaska Native students.

"In exchange for federal protection and the promise of certain benefits, our ancestors gave up — forever — to the people of the United States title to the very soil of our beloved country," Keel said.

Indian Health Service is in line for an increase, including $150 million for fighting the opioid crisis. Keel said offering that money as grants, however, will make it tough for small tribes to secure any.