Tribal Chairman Advocates for Federal Funding to Congress

Acting Tribal Chairman Darrell Shay

Published June 6, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes was invited to provide testimony on May 17, 2017, regarding the Tribes federal funding needs, to the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee in Washington DC.  The hearing was hosted by the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee which focused on the Department of Interior and EPA funding.

Acting Chairman Darrell Shay thanked the Committee, “for this opportunity to talk about financing issues, and thank you, Rep Simpson, for all the support for Indian Country all these years.” He addressed the proposed federal budget cuts, the long term underfunding of BIA Self-Determination and Self-Governance programs, Tribal Health care needs, infrastructure needs for our community water and wastewater systems, as well, the Sho-Ban Jr./Sr. high school funding, and Tribal EPA funding to help clean up polluted and contaminated lands of the Reservation.  He emphasized the need to protect and honor the treaty rights held by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

House Representative Simpson and Betty McClellan chaired the hearing, with Chairman Shay leading off the panel presentations, which included Mary Jane Miles, Nez Perce; Rodney Mike, Duckwater Shoshone; and Ted Howard, from the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes.  Chairman Shay asked for additional funding for cleanup for the Michaud Flats and the Gay Mine areas, asking for specific direction from the Committee to EPA to support Tribal cleanup.  Another request made by the Chairman was for community wellness initiatives because of it’s proactive effort to protect our people’s health and overall wellness, stating that “the federal funding is critical for our people, and our health care. Even though we have the modern day facilities, we still need the funding for the programs within those facilities.””

Representative Simpson and McClellan both stated that they understand how important it is to protect tribal funding, and their commitment to work together in a bipartisan manner. They also appreciated the effort by tribal nations to support the EPA’s efforts to protect the environment on reservations, because that is an agency that is being targeted by the President’s proposed budget. The Chairman stated, “We depend on the EPA to protect our waters and our people and a healthy environment is necessary. Over time, we have developed a “love/hate” relationship with EPA, and but what is proposed lately is to slash EPA’s budget, but that is not the solution — we want to them to work and clean up the lands, and to work with the Tribes in cleaning up our Reservation lands.” Simpson responded, “I’m not too worried about the Trump budget, because frankly I just don’t think that there are too many things in that [Trump’s] budget that members of congress care about, and tribal responsibilities is important to us.”

Chairman Shay made good use of his time in DC, advocating to numerous congressional members who sit on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the House Natural Resources Committee and are strong supporters of Indian Country.  He met with House Representative Norma Torres, (D-CA) and Tribal member staffer, Rudy Soto (Shoshone-Bannock).  A major issue discussed was the cleanup of Superfund sites on Reservations.  Chairman Shay also met with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Majority, John Hoeven, (R-ND) to discuss the Tribal concerns on tribal infrastructure needs and health care funding.  In the meeting with Senator Tom Udall, (D-NM) and his staff, Chairman Shay expressed his concerns about the Secretary of Interior’s Zinke’s recent statements on tribal sovereignty and sacred lands protection.  In early May, Secretary Zinke stated that he might be interested in revisiting the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, implying a return of Termination era policies for Indian tribes.  Senator Udall expressed his support for tribal sovereignty and committed himself to fighting for tribes on treaty rights, sacred lands and cleanup of Superfund sites on Indian lands. Other specific projects mentioned were the cleanup of both sides of the Blackfoot River with the Army Corp of Engineers, and the funding request for Gray’s Lake land purchase of local landowners land.

A written testimony is also available upon request from the Office of Public Affairs, contact Photo is of Chairman Darrell Shay standing in front of an original painting of Shoshone-Bannock women by tribal member Evelyn Teton that is on loan and displayed in one of the main hearing rooms in the Rayburn Office Building in Washington DC.

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