Minn. tribal leaders call for Congress to act as cuts hurt reservations

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Minnesota tribal leaders made their voices heard in Washington D.C. during a recent three-day summit to urge lawmakers to end sequestration spending cuts that's causing American Indian reservations to suffer.

The Star Tribune reports Karen Diver, chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee while Melanie Benjamin, who leads the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, met with Pres. Barack Obama as part of the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

Programs supporting schools, health care and housing for American Indians across the country have lost funding when lawmakers approved sequestration cuts.

In Minnesota, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa can no longer hire a primary care doctor and is at risk of losing its only pediatric dentist, according to the Star Tribune. Affordable housing and transportation projects on Fond du Lac have stalled.

The newspaper says if Congress doesn't act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Services is at risk of losing $19 billion next year.

Indian Country Today compiled a top 10 of tribal desires at the summit, with ending sequestration at the top of the list.

More than 300 tribal leaders attended this year's summit, the largest attendance yet, The Oklahoman reported.

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