At the end of May, President Donald Trump and the White House released their budget proposal, which clearly jeopardizes the future of Native American people and tribes. The federal government has failed to hold up the trust responsibility and treaty obligation to protect Native people. Our ancestors were forced into treaties as a last resort when our homelands were forcefully taken from us. The history of genocide and assimilation of the indigenous people is hidden, as well as how we were forced to believe the white man's way is the only way.
When Trump’s budget was announced, I was appalled. His so-called “America First” budget clearly puts America last, gutting the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Interior in favor of corporate special interests and CEOs. The administration has proposed cutting the EPA’s budget by $2.5 billion and DOI’s budget by $1.6 billion, which would eviscerate key programs that North Dakotans need to ensure that we leave a strong and healthy legacy for our children.
We will not be able to safeguard our public lands and our families’ drinking water if leaders in Washington continue to allow special interests to take priority over the needs of average Americans.
In my capacity as president of Fort Berthold Protectors of Water & Earth Rights (POWER), I have seen firsthand the important work that the EPA does in North Dakota. Across the state we depend on programs funded by the EPA that safeguard our drinking water and our air quality. These protections keep our family healthy and environment resilient. The EPA’s Clean Water Rule, for example, protects small streams and other critical water bodies. In North Dakota, headwater, rain-fed and seasonal streams contribute to the drinking water supplies of 290,000 people.
You have free articles remaining.
Rather than taking steps to ensure that our children and the generations that follow have access to clean drinking water, Trump and his administration have put the needs of corporate polluters first. Even before it was operational, Dakota Access Pipeline spilled over 100 gallons of oil in North Dakota. While this incident did not threaten water supplies or natural wildlife, under Trump’s proposed budget if another leak occurred that threatens North Dakotan waterways or wildlife, the EPA will not have the proper resources to clean it up. A 31 percent cut to the EPA would decimate the agency’s ability to respond to crises and risks exposing our children to contaminated water.
Trump’s budget also threatens to sell off our public lands to the highest bidder. We cherish our public lands here in North Dakota. Our parks, waters and lands are part of America’s outdoor heritage, and we have a moral obligation to protect them for our children and grandchildren. Cuts to DOI and EPA clearly signal to North Dakotans that this president does not care about our health or our outdoors.
Trump’s budget cuts over $1 billion from America’s national parks, putting American families' opportunities to experience places like Theodore Roosevelt National Park in jeopardy. Staff cuts and maintenance backlogs are already at dangerous levels, and further cuts will come at the expense of working families in communities that depend on outdoor recreation and tourism to fuel their economy. Instead of maximizing sellouts to special interests, our leaders in Washington need to recognize what so many before them have: When our parks thrive, so do Americans.
It should be common sense that a “great” America would have great parks, great lands and waters, and clean, healthy drinking water for our children. But Trump’s vision seems drastically different.
We are counting on our leaders in Washington to reject any more cuts to the EPA and DOI for the sake of our most sacred resources in North Dakota — our lands and our waters. North Dakotans across the state will resist any actions by our leaders in Washington that would harm our outdoor heritage, or the clean drinking water our children need.
Lisa DeVille (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation), Mandaree, is president of Fort Berthold POWER.