Can Obama Bring "Justice" to Reservations?

July 6 2009, 10:13 AM

echohawk-larryLeaders in President Barack Obama's administration vow they will help battle rape, child assaults, and domestic abuse on American Indian reservations--an ongoing and growing crisis. The details will be spelled out by Attorney General Eric Holder in a "listening session" with hundreds of tribal leaders later this year, in a process that recognizes possible causes, such as neglect by federal prosecutors and police, according to The Denver Post, which quotes an official as saying the effort may include "a very significant request for additional resources." As yet, existing resources haven't made their way into Indian communities: John Thune, a South Dakota Republican on the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, says the Obama administration has failed to provide $750 million in the 2010 budget to help fund efforts to fight crime on reservations. "I hope they decide to do something about this, because there is this pattern that has gone on from one administration to the next of benign neglect," Thune says. Meanwhile, at the end of last month, a "brief moment of respite" came for American Indians as Larry EchoHawk (pictured), a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, became the new chief of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, according to Indian Country Today, in a story noting that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is "ready to go to Congress" and ask it to clear up a law that leaves the heritage of some tribes in question.

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