There are critical needs in Indian health, housing and welfare that must be addressed.
Indian health care must be improved.
American Indians are three times more likely than other Americans to die from diabetes, four times more likely to die for living disease, and five times more likely to die from tuberculosis. Yet in 1997, Indian Health Service spent about #1,280 per person - less than half the $3,260 that was spent per person nationally. Funding for Indian health care must be increased to bring American Indians up to the level of health that other Americans enjoy.
Indian housing must be improved.
Indian Country has six times the number of substandard homes as the rest of the United States, and more than 30 percent of low-income American Indians live in overcrowded homes. At least 200,000 housing units are needed immediately to provide adequate homes to American Indian families.
Indian children must be protected through the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Before the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICHW) was passed in 1978, Indian children were often taken from their families by non-Indians who felt the children needed to be "civilized." ICWA made these practices illegal and preserved tribes' right to determine the welfare of Indian Children. These rights must continue to be protected to ensure the survival of Indian nations and their rich cultural heritage.
Welfare reform must reflect the needs of Indian tribes.
Tribal governments are working hard to promote personal responsibility and employment opportunities for their members. However, tribes' efforts do not relieve the federal government of its responsibilities to Indian people. Implementation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 must respect the sovereign rights of tribes and must ensure that trust obligations are not diminished in any way.