Columbus Day for the Conquered: Yeah, Trump Dicks Over Indigenous People, Too

Believe it or not, the policies and proposals of President Donald Trump, for whom the Washington Redskins could rename themselves "Orangeskins" and offend far fewer people, will have or are having a detrimental effect on Indian communities throughout the country. No one is immune from his patented brand of incompetence, cruelty, and fuckery.

Take, for instance, Trump's budget proposal from a few months back. It cuts federal funding to Indian country over 10 percent. That's $300 million less for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, $50 million cut from HUD's budget for housing for Indian communities, and $150 million cut from the Indian Health Service. Oh, and Indian education programs would be cut by $64 million plus an additional $58 million cut from funds to repair worn-out school buildings in Indian country.

On and on the cuts go, to law enforcement, to youth delinquency programs, to assistance programs, to tribal national resource management programs. And because the war on children by this administration is never truly complete, cuts to child welfare programs on reservations are proposed, too.

The budget proposal so thoroughly dicks over Indian country that an Oklahoma Republican member of Congress, Tom Cole, who is a Chickasaw, spoke out, saying, "I can tell you, whoever came up with this budget, I don't hold them in high esteem."

Trump himself actually met with tribal leaders back in June, and he didn't talk about Pocahontas or Tonto or say, "How" and tap his "woo-woo"-ing mouth. Of course, what he did was make unrealistic promises because he had no fucking clue what they were talking about. "We love Indian Country, right?" he said because, yeah, that's what he does. And Trump talked about how he was going to make land use much easier for Indian tribes: "All you want is the freedom to use them, and that’s been the problem. It’s been very difficult, hasn’t it? It will be a lot easier now under the Trump administration."

While some things won't happen (like a weakening of the National Environmental Policy Act so drilling and other shitty activities can get going faster), the Native American groups' representatives there hoped for an answer on getting land-into-trust requests expedited. This is how tribes get more land around their reservations, by restoring traditional lands to the tribes. But the Trump administration just last week announced that Department of the Interior was proposing to make the already years-long process more onerous and to actively discourage tribes from getting land back. So, in other words, deregulation is great except when it might benefit someone other than huge corporations.

Meanwhile, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, has proposed a bill to help with the "epidemic" of "missing and murdered Native women." In a speech on the floor of the Senate, Heitkamp told the stories of four women whose cases are still open. She said, "Native women and girls face a crisis of exploitation, violence, and murder – we must take action to protect them as I’ve long been working to do."

The bill, named after a young woman who disappeared when she was 8 months pregnant and was later found murdered, would require "federal agencies to discover the extent of the problem by reporting on the numbers of missing and murdered Native women every year. To address potential shortfalls, it creates a standardized protocol for federal, tribal, state and local governments to follow in dealing with these types of cases."

Heitkamp's impassioned plea, followed by equally strong words from Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican who is co-sponsoring the legislation, received virtually no media coverage. This despite the fact that, as Heitkamp points out, "In 2016, North Dakota had 125 reported cases of missing Native women according to the National Crime Information Center, but numbers are likely much higher as cases are often under reported and data isn’t officially collected."

Which is a situation that Christopher Columbus would approve of.