The United States Government has shutdown with some 800,000 essential government employees being furloughed until further noticed – a situation that seems like a bad dream for one Native American Lawyer.
Chris Stearns, a Navajo lawyer with Hobbs Straus, said the current shutdown is another hit to the relationship between the federal government and tribes. “The trust responsibility, and the right to federal services, which Indian country has already paid for with its lands, will be diminished,” he said of the current situation. He should know, having worked on Capitol Hill during the government shutdowns of the mid-1990s, which saw thousands of BIA employees laid off, and lease payments to tribes and individuals delayed.
Now, like a bad dream, it’s happening all over again.
“Perhaps it might be fair, if during a shutdown, Indian tribes got to take back our lands in lieu of payments,” Stearns said.