Trump Has Broken His Promises to Native Americans

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Trump Has Broken His Promises to Native Americans

President Trump claimed yesterday that he is “committed to preserving and protecting Native American cultures, languages, and history, while ensuring prosperity and opportunity for all Native Americans,” while signing an executive order that excludes tribal government, tribal law enforcement, and victims’ families from holding any position on a task force to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. 

Despite his claims, the president has repeatedly broken his promises to respect and uplift Native communities. He’s cut funding for essential programs, discredited tribal sovereignty, and ignored Native voices on critical issues.

DPNM Chair Marg Elliston released the following statement regarding the president’s broken promises to Native communities: “The U.S. government has a long and shameful history of breaking promises to Native communities. President Trump may claim to be committed to uplifting Native Americans, but he’s shown again and again that he does not respect Native history or culture. His empty promises mean little when the president continues to dismiss tribal sovereignty and push aside tribal governments to get his way.” 

BACKGROUND:

DONALD TRUMP HAS A LONG HISTORY OF OFFENSIVE REMARKS ABOUT NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Trump Claimed Tribal Governments Were “Only Sovereign In That They Don’t Pay Taxes.” “I am opposed to gambling when it can’t be policed, and I don’t believe the Indian reservations can be policed, there’s too many of them, and especially when people claim sovereignty when, in fact, there is nothing sovereign. It is only sovereign in that they don’t pay taxes.” [Oversight Hearing, Subcommittee On Indian Affairs, 10/5/93]

Trump Financed Ads That Ran Against A Mohawk Casino Featuring A Picture Of Cocaine Lines And Drug Needles. “Last winter, Trump secretly financed a series of ads in upstate New York warning that the Mohawk casino would bring drug dealing and organized crime to the Catskills. The ads featured a picture of cocaine lines and drug needles and rattled off alleged abuses by the tribe, asking, ‘Are these the new neighbors we want?’” [Boston Globe, 12/13/00]

In 2011, Trump Said He “Didn’t Relent” From His Statement And “Many Of Them Aren’t Indians.” “What’s happened with the Indian reservations is absolutely unbelievable. The lobbyists have done an unbelievable job. Many of them aren’t Indians. I had a very famous statement, ‘They don’t look like Indians to me.’ And they put it on ‘60 Minutes.’ It became a [thing]. And you know what the end of ‘60 Minutes’ was? — And I didn’t relent from that statement.” [Huffington Post, 6/27/16; Intelligent Investing with Steve Forbes, 2011]

 

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS PROPOSED CUTTING FUNDING FOR PROGRAMS THAT SUPPORT NATIVE COMMUNITIES

Tribes Spoke Out Against Trump’s Plan To Cut Over $100 Million In Funding for Critical Programs “‘Dozens of Native American tribes in six Western states expressed outrage Thursday at President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to American Indian programs, saying they would erase significant progress on child welfare and climate change and gut social services and education on reservations across the U.S. […] This is the single largest attack on Indian Country that we’ve experienced in recent history. There is no doubt that the president has made a statement toward Indian County,’ said Mel Sheldon, a councilman with the Tulalip Tribes in Washington state. ‘It is not a good statement.’” [Associated Press, 5/25/17]

Trump’s FY19 And FY20 Budget Proposals Called For Cutting Tens Of Millions Of Dollars From Tribal Scholarship And Education Programs Administered By The Bureau Of Indian Education. “The program survived last year’s proposed cuts, but is again on the table this year. The administration’s fiscal year 2020 budget would slash nearly $40 million from tribal scholarship and education programs administered by the Bureau of Indian Education… [Navajo Office of Scholarship and Financial Assistance’s] Graham says in 2017 nearly $10 million in federal funding went to partial scholarships for nearly 4,000 Navajo students. The Trump administration’s proposal would eliminate all of it.” [KNAU, 3/28/19]

 

TRUMP AND HIS ADMINISTRATION HAVE IGNORED AND EXCLUDED TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS

President Trump Decided to Shrink Bears Ears National Monument Without Consulting Tribal Leadership. “After the report was issued, representatives from local tribes, Carleton Bowekaty, a councilman of the Pueblo of Zuni and co-chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and David Filfred, a council delegate for the Navajo Nation Council, highlighted the lack of consultation, stating: ‘It is time to set the record straight. The President, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Utah congressional delegation and Utah’s governor did not consult with us in making their decision to shrink Bears Ears. This is the work of powerful politicians playing the same old game, and attempting to bring the swamp to southern Utah. They did not work with us, despite their claims that they heard the voices of tribes. The voice of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the Ute Indian Tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Pueblo of Zuni has been uni­form, consistent and loud: Protect our homelands, histories and cultures by preserving the Bears Ears National Monument.’ [NLG Law Review, Spring 2018]

President Trump’s Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Does Not Include Tribal Government, Tribal Law Enforcement Or Victims’ Families. “The Task Force shall be composed wholly of full-time, or permanent part-time, officers or employees of the Federal Government.” [The White House, 11/26/19]

 

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS REFUSED TO CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS RECOGNIZING INDIGENOUS HISTORY AND CULTURE

As New Mexico Celebrated Our First Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Trump Dismissed Criticism of Christopher Columbus. “‘To me it will always be called Columbus Day,’ Trump said during a press conference at the White House with Italian President Sergio Mattarella. ‘Some people don’t like that,’ he said. ‘I do.’” [USA Today, 10/16/19]

The White House Chose To Celebrate November 2019 As “National American History and Founders Month” Overshadowing Native American Heritage Month. “Since 1990, Americans have celebrated November as National American Indian Heritage month. But now the Trump White House, in a proclamation issued October 31, has papered over it by declaring November, 2019 ‘National American History and Founders Month.’” [CNN, 11/7/19]

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