The Shutdown is Bad, But If You're Native American, It's Worse

During this shutdown, our government and the American people are forgetting a hard-hit population that already struggles enough as it is: Native Americans.

The shutdown ensures that a number of places like the U.S. Department of Agriculture are closed. Right now, the website is not even in operation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the food distribution on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), the equivalent to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Residents of Native American reservations have more than their fair share of troubles, and now the contention in the government makes the threat of hunger a greater reality, even for 9 million children that receive WIC, the supplemental food assistance program for women, infants, and children. Some of those 9 million affected are Native American babies.

It is reported that the Obama administration has a contingency plan intended to provide relief to Native American reservations, but somehow, for an administration that fails to pay its tribal bills and still gets paid during the shutdown, the talk seems like all bark and no bite.

But politicians paying lip service to Native Americans should not be a surprise. Reservations, though sovereign nations, are little more than semi-government properties, with conditions reminiscent of ghettos and internment camps.

Our government has a responsibility to the entire country, sovereign lands included. A better life for Native Americans is long overdue and deepening race-fuelled rhetoric from politicians does not make room for a forward conversation about a population completely ostracized from adequate services and quality of life.