Friday, March 27, 2009

The Global Economic Crisis and Indigenous Peoples: Recent News Articles and Reports

There have been numerous reports and news stories in the media on how the global economic crisis is impacting financial markets, large and small companies, and state and national governments. However, it has been difficult to find stories on how the global economic crisis is impacting indigenous peoples. Below are several recent articles that address this. If you have a story to share or tell on how the global economic crisis is impacting indigenous peoples, please contribute by leaving a comment. Together we can make this into a valuable resource!

United States: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Indian Country

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved on March 3, 2009 includes approximately $2.5 billion to create jobs and economic opportunity in Indian Country. Below is a summary of Indian Country provisions.


  • Indian Health Facilities – $415 million
  • New construction - $227 million
  • Maintenance and improvements - $100 million
  • Sanitation Facilities - $68 million
  • Medical Equipment - $20 million
  • Indian Health Services - Health Information Technology - $85 million

  • BIA Office of Indian Programs - $40 million (housing improvement and workforce & training)
  • BIA Construction - $450 million (schools, roads repair, jails, irrigation, dams)

  • DOJ Community Oriented Policing Services – tribes eligible to compete - $1 billion program
  • DOJ Violence Against Women Prosecution Grants - $22.5 million (result of a 10% tribal set-aside)
  • DOJ Tribal Law Enforcement Assistance - these grants are targeted to “assist American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, to be distributed under the guidelines set forth by the Correctional Facilities on Tribal Lands program. The Department is directed to coordinate with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and to consider the following in the grant approval process: (1) the detention bed space needs of an applicant tribe; and (2) the violent crime statistics of the tribe” - $225 million

  • Indian Reservation Roads (DOT) – $310 million
  • Tribal Transit Set-Aside (DOT) – $17.25 million

  • Indian Housing block grants (HUD) – $510 million (conference note to use funding to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency in houses maintained by Native American housing programs)

  • Head Start - $10 million (tribal set-aside)
  • Early Head Start - tribes eligible for a portion of the $1.1 billion program
  • Special Education (IDEA) – tribes eligible for a portion of the $12.2 billion program
  • Impact Aid – language urges targeted funding to military and Indian reservations from the $100 million program

  • Bureau of Reclamation Tribal Water Projects – $60 million for water intake and treatment facilities
  • Safe Drinking and Clean Water Revolving Funds – $120 million (permissive set-aside)
  • Tribal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Black Grants - $56 million (result of a 2% tribal set-aside)
  • Weatherization Assistance Program – tribes are eligible to compete for competitive grants under the $5 billion program

  • Indian Reservation Food Distribution (USDA) – $5 million
  • Native Elder Nutrition (DHHS) - $3 million (Older Americans Act, Title IV)
  • BIA Indian Loan Guarantee Program - $10 million
  • Tribal Community Development Financial Institutions (Treasury) – $10 million

  • Tribal economic development tax-exempt bonds - $2 billion in bonding authority
  • Qualified Indian school construction bonds - $400 million in bonding authority

  • Bill language permits Indian Tribes to contract and compact to build projects and create reservation jobs pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Self-Governance Acts

United Nations Press Release March 4, 2009


The twin economic and financial crises threatens poorer nations’ ability to attain basic human rights, such as the right to food and access to water and sanitation, the head of the General Assembly declared today.

“Developing countries suffer the most” from the economic turmoil, Miguel D’Escoto told the United Nations Human Rights Council today in Geneva.

“It would be profoundly unjust to expect them to postpone the realization of basic rights,” he added.

The 63rd session of the Assembly has endeavoured to ensure that the poorest nations do not bear the largest brunt of a crisis for which they are not responsible, the body’s President said.

He welcomed the 47-member Council’s recent special meeting to discuss the impact the financial tumult is having on human rights.

During that gathering, it adopted a resolution which stressed the need to set up an equitable, transparent and democratic international system to broaden developing nations’ participation in decisions regarding the economy.

“I see a profound relationship between access to safe drinking water and sanitation and the enjoyment of the right to life or health,” Mr. D’Escoto said. “Indeed, access to water is indispensable for a life in dignity and a prerequisite for the enjoyment of other human rights.”

Further, the right to food, which has been severely jeopardized by the crises, must be considered fundamental to the established rights to an adequate standard of living and to health, he said.

The official also called for greater cooperation between the Council and the Assembly in the area of gender, adding that he believes the time will soon be ripe for the creation of a new UN entity for women.

The Council is currently meeting in its 10th session, which will run from 2-27 March. In 2006, the body replaced the Commission on Human Rights, which had been dogged by accusations of bias and politicization, as part of ongoing UN reform.

News Articles Dealing with Indigenous Peoples and the Impacts of the Global Economic Crisis

International: Indigenous Peoples Bracing for Recession Effects

Asia-Pacific: Women Grapple With Financial Crisis and Globalization

South America: Global Recession May Offer the Indigenous People of the Andes the Chance to Redefine Themselves in a Post-colonial Environment

Mexico: As Mexico’s Problems Mount: The Impact of the Economic Recession on Migration Patterns from Mexico

Australia: Putting Our Money Where Rudd’s Mouth Is

Australia: Indigenous Business – Challenges and Solutions for Economic Independence

Australia: Indigenous Job Losses Up as Employers Wind Back

Taiwan: Focus on Aboriginals During Financial Crisis

United States: Virginia's Indian Tribes Won't be Receiving Any Stimulus Funds

United States: Recession Slows Tribes' Plans for Out-of-State Casinos

United States: State Lawmakers Bet Gambling Can Help With Budgets

United States: How The Recession Is Affecting American Indians

Canada: State of the First Nation Economy Paper to be Released Monday at Inter-Nation Trade and Economic Summit

Canada: Open Letter to Parliament from AFN Chief Concerning Economic Situation

Canada: Aboriginal Economic Stimulus - Looks like Social Programs

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