Federal budget cuts could target Native programs

AFN President Julie Kitka addresses the Feb. 22 Native Issues Forum in Juneau. Photo by Ed Schoenfeld.

Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka warns that the continuing federal budget battle could impact essential services.

But she says it’s hard to tell where the ax will fall.

“We could see programs that we have spent decades building up and working and just will disappear in the budget acts as they deal with those federal deficits,” she said.

She told those attending Juneau’s Native Issues Forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, to be ready for a last-minute call-to-action if major programs face significant cuts.

At the same time, Kitka expressed optimism about Native Americans’ chances in the coming year.

She pointed to an upcoming conference in Washington, D.C., cosponsored by the Center for American Progress. The think-tank is closely tied to the Obama administration.

“It’s one of those opportunities (where) you make of it what you can. It may turn out to economic development issues that could pop out of this and get done. It could be renewable energy. It could be regulatory changes or a whole array of things,” she said.

Kitka said the conference is a major focus for AFN during the last year of the Obama administration’s first term.

Watch Kitka and Sen. Albert Kookesh address the Native Issues Forum on GavelAlaska TV archives.

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