U.S. House hearing shines light on needs of North Dakota tribal communities

WASHINGTON — A hearing in the U.S. House Wednesday discussed needs of the country’s tribal communities.

“Day after day, our nation’s tribal communities are suffering terrible inequalities,” said Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey.

But according to the executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, the coronavirus remains the state’s first priority.

“Health disparities on reservations is much higher than across America, so that’s why are our respective fear is much higher,” said Scott Davis.

The hearing included many topics aside from the pandemic.

Republican North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong said, “I’m a little disappointed that they had nine topics kind of what I think was rushed together at the last minute. I mean, you could have an entire half day hearing on broadband on reservations.”

Including the need for clean water on reservations.

“In standing rock, we had a family that did just positive and you know, there were they didn’t have any running water. You know, it’s very common,” said Davis.

But some of these issues are gaining more attention due to the pandemic.

Armstrong said, “Some of this really exposes problems that have existed for a while. So it gives us an opportunity to fix those things. Broadband is a perfect example.”

All leading to the need for local and federal officials to take a closer look.

“They are unique communities and unique economies. And I think sometimes we forget that both both within the state and at a national level,” added Armstrong.

Davis said, “There’s a lot of good movement for us as minorities, I appreciate that those that’s a long time coming. But you know, to make things better and fair for everybody, Congress needs to work together and not be so divisive.”

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