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Coalition Letter to Congress: Include Native Americans in Economic Stimulus
Dear Senator/Representative:

Thank you for working on an economic recovery package that will directly support those who are affected most by this recession – poor and middle income households.  As representatives of the interfaith community, we are encouraged by Congress and President elect Obama’s emphasis on infrastructure as an avenue toward economic security.  Bringing justice to the poor is ultimately a religious and moral value.  As you continue your work, we urge you to incorporate Native American communities explicitly in the economic stimulus. 

Infrastructure on native lands is far behind developments in the rest of the country, and the persistent lack of resources in native communities has had dire consequences.  Many roads, schools, clinics, homes, detention centers, and the like are unsafe for men, women, and children.  For example:

  • The Native American population experiences the highest rates of transportation accidents of anyone in the country.  Every school day, buses traveling rutted dirt roads put children and staff in danger, especially in wet and icy weather conditions. 
  • Many school buildings, detention centers, homes, and health clinics have been declared unsafe – yet they remain the only option.  Recently, a professor could only find space to teach her literacy course in the living room of a trailer, sharing with three other offices using the same space. With few and inadequate schools and community centers, it is perhaps not surprising that 32% of American Indian adults fail to attain basic reading levels, compared to only 13% of white adults.  Native Americans are similarly disadvantaged when it comes to health care and public safety facilities.
  • More than 36,000 homes on tribal land lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation infrastructure.  This number amounts to 13% of tribal homes compared to less than 1% of homes nationwide. 

As you continue to discuss the details of an economic recovery package please include infrastructure on tribal lands.  Native Americans have the highest unemployment rates of any ethnic group in the United States.  New construction projects will create thousands of jobs and give much needed opportunities to Native Americans desperately needing work. Therefore such investments will result not only in much needed physical improvements, but also in highly valued jobs for Native people.   In essence, including Native American communities in the economic stimulus plan, will allow tribal leaders and others to make more progress on health care, justice, education, and economic security, rather than dealing day to day with safety concerns.

Thank you for your time and commitment to Native Americans.

The Episcopal Church  * The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society * Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office   *  Ronald J. Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action  *  United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries   *  Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office  *  Friends Committee on National Legislation  *  NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby   *  Native American Comprehensive Plan of the United Methodist Church  *  Leadership Conference of Women Religious  *   National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd  *   Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns  * All Nations Indian Church

For further information please contact Karyn Wingard-Manuel or Ruth Flower at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, 202-547-6000 or

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