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Native American tribes are ‘starting to feel the impact’ of shutdown funding delay

The government shutdown has affected Native American tribes who rely on federal funds allocated by treaty rights. For the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians in Wisconsin, funding goes towards services like public safety and elder healthcare. Now the tribe is awaiting more than a million dollars owed by government. Marisa Wojcik of Wisconsin Public Television reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The shutdown has also had an impact on services the federal government is obligated to pay to Native Americans under treaty rights.

    From Wisconsin Public Television, Marisa Wojcik reports from Shawano, Wisconsin, where one tribe is already short more than a million dollars.

  • Shannon Holsey:

    Certainly, we are monitoring this closely.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    Shannon Holsey is the president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians located on 22,000 acres in Shawano County, Wisconsin. Her office has been fielding questions from the community.

  • Shannon Holsey:

    We have gotten calls asking how concerned they should be with regards to the services that are provided.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    Like any government, community services, including health care, education, public safety and care for the elderly, are all supported by the tribe.

    Most tribal nations receive federal funding budgeted through Congress annually.

  • Shannon Holsey:

    The funds that we receive are through trust and treaty responsibilities. They're not aid.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    And with the government shutdown, these funds are no longer coming into the community.

  • Andrew Miller:

    Well, I can say that we're starting to feel the impact already.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    Andrew Miller is the director of the community health clinic.

  • Andrew Miller:

    IHS, Indian Health Service, provides funds to allow us to run this clinic. These are not handouts, if you will. These are a requirement per those treaties. Right now, we serve about 2,800 patients. Of those patients, about one-third are elderly, who rely heavily on our services.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    Even before the shutdown, the tribal nation has been offsetting costs from their own pocket.

  • Andrew Miller:

    We started out underfunded. IHS has estimated that we're only funded about 40 percent of our need to provide medical services to our population.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    The Stockbridge-Munsee community supports more than just its Native citizens.

  • Shannon Holsey:

    As the largest employer in Shawano County, we recognize the overwhelming need of the citizens. We don't just live on a Native American reservation. We contribute to a broader extent to our community.

  • Paige Lehman:

    I try to be friendly to everybody and wave.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    Officer Paige Lehman is non-Native. She's cross-deputized, as a tribal officer and a Shawano County sheriff deputy.

  • Paige Lehman:

    We basically patrol two different areas of the whole Shawano County. I think, for a long time, we actually had a Shawano patch on one side and a Stockbridge on the other.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    Even though she serves all of Shawano County, she's employed by the tribe.

  • Shannon Holsey:

    We're hoping that it never has to get to the point where you have to — going to have to furlough people.

  • Paige Lehman:

    I like working here, and I hope that I never have to leave for something like that, but you never know.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    A shutdown that leaves tribal nations severely shorted on the U.S. government's obligations hatched long ago in treaty agreements.

  • Shannon Holsey:

    We gave up a great deal. A lot was lost in that. It's not just land. We're caught up in this unrelated D.C. politics over a border wall. The president and Congress need to really immediately reopen the government.

    We're talking about human capital. We're talking about people and the effect that it has on their lives.

  • Marisa Wojcik:

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Marisa Wojcik in Shawano, Wisconsin.

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