The long federal government shutdown was particularly hard on Nebraska’s native community. Mechelle Walker, a member of the Omaha Tribe who recently ran for the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District 1, says that services to native people in the state are chronically underfunded and the shutdown depleted already strained budgets.
Many of the services provided to native people in Nebraska are guaranteed by federal treaties that came about when the U.S. government forcibly displaced native people and restricted their traditional means of survival. With the government shutdown, lifesaving medical services and basic necessities–all of which were already poor compensation for the government’s theft of natural resources from the tribes in Nebraska–were dangerously curtailed. Even with the government back up and running, Indian Health Services is running on fumes and many native people, who often live considerable distances from resources, are struggling to provide for their families and themselves.
Walker is raising awareness of this issue and helping relieve some of the acute need by holding an aid drive. She and other volunteers will be at Meadowlark Coffee at 17th and South Street on Sunday, Feb. 3 from 1:00 to 6:00. They are collecting nonperishable food (rice, beans, baby formula and baby food are particularly welcome), diapers, and general medical supplies (gauze, band-aids, saline, non-latex gloves, etc.). They are also welcoming donations by check made out to Carl T. Curtis Health and Education Center, a native community center in Macy that has been working overtime to address the shortages of the shutdown.