When Republicans made yet another unsuccessful attempt to take away healthcare from millions of Americans last month, Native Americans, specifically Alaska Natives, worked to ensure that Sen. Lisa Murkowskivoted against the plan, sealing its defeat.
They fought against the “skinny repeal” because they understood that it would harm them. The United States has long guaranteed Native Americans access to healthcare, mostly through commitments the federal government made to Indian tribes in exchange for land. Repeal of Obamacare would put much of this tribal healthcare at risk, including the care received by more than 290,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives through the Medicaid expansion.
But healthcare is just one of many areas where the Trump administration wants to break our government’s promises to Indian Country.
President Trump’s proposed 2,200-mile border wall, for instance, is not merely ludicrous immigration policy and a massive waste of taxpayer money, it also shows profound disregard for the sovereign rights of Native Americans.
The Tohono O’odham Nation, which is roughly the size of Connecticut, straddles 62 milesof the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. Trump’s wall would cut right through the reservation, including land that is sacred burial ground. Until now, the tribe has accommodated U.S. Customs and Border Protection, allowing a fence to be built and border patrol agents to guard it, but it adamantly opposes Trump’s barricade. Nevertheless, last month, House Republicans approved $1.6 billion to construct part of the wall.
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