by Steve Cadue, Tribal Council Member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas
Our Indian people are being targeted and scapegoated due to our success in American capitalism, an industry called Indian gaming. Scapegoated, yes, because all Indians are being pictured as giving millions of dollars to the indicted Jack Abramoff. The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee should be directing their investigation on the few tribes who had dealings with Jack Abramoff and not gutting the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in vengeance against all Indian tribes.
We are experiencing a reckless attack launched by politicians and anti-Indian gaming interests due to the phenomenal economic success of some of our Indian tribes who have opted to engage in Indian gaming in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a federal law. Make no mistake, the federal budget for Indian people is being cut without justification and inhumanely due to the financial Indian gaming success of a few Indian tribes. Inhumanely, yes, because the federal budget for Indians is about human beings. Poverty is a killer in many ways. Yes, it is obvious that lack of financial resources equates to poor physical health, but just as deadly mentally is the lack of dignity and pride existent with poverty. Indian people have the lowest longevity of any other racial group in the United States. Poor physical health is not the only reason for this dreadful statistic. Crime, poor housing, poor quality of education, poor tribal reservation infrastructure, i.e, dangerous roads, distant medical services, poor drinking water, poor communication access. In 2003, the U S Commission on Civil Rights transmitted their report, A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country, to the President, the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. This report detailed the myriad unmet needs of Indian people: health care, education, public safety, housing, and rural development. The report found significant disparities in federal funding existing between Native Americans and other groups in the United States as well as the general population. Remember, we are talking about human beings.
Poverty is a killer. Poverty must be fought anywhere it exists throughout the world, but certainly as U.S. citizens, we should look first to our own shores. Proudly and successfully, many of our Indian tribes are fighting poverty with Indian gaming revenue. We are trying to fill the gap, supplementing federal funding shortfalls in combating poverty and strengthening our tribal communities with our earned income. We have invited congressional representatives, but few visit our tribal homelands. Is it because we cannot guarantee a couple hundred thousand dollar fund-raiser? Or is it because, if they do visit, only a few minority Indian voters can be secured? The politicians came at Jack Abramoff's invitation and did their duty because that is the way things work in Washington, D.C.
What constitutes attrition? Remember, we are talking about human beings. Is it the elimination of road construction monies for a safely designed tribal reservation paved road? Is it the elimination of funds for a diabetes program? Is it the elimination of funds for a properly designed water filtration plant? Is it the elimination of funds for a teacher and textbooks? Is it the elimination of utility construction monies for telephone emergency services to call the police, fire department or an ambulance? Is it the elimination of funds for an alcohol and drug abuse counselor? Is it the elimination of housing construction monies? Attrition's ultimate impact is extinguishment. Our challenges are great and we must fight back.
Steve Cadue is an elected Tribal Council Member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas. He can be reached by calling (785) 842-7821 or email firstname.lastname@example.org