Tribal leaders cooperating to deal with shutdown

Posted at: 10/04/2013 5:44 PM
By: Ashley McElroy, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The federal shutdown is being felt hard by many Native Americans -- where federal agencies are the first line of response for so many needs.

That’s why tribal leaders are coming together to talk about ways they can start relying on each other, instead of the feds.

Bryan Brewer, president of the Oglala Sioux Nation, traveled from South Dakota to visit the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. Today he attended a veterans memorial. 

Yesterday he met with Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly to talk about the possibilities of the two tribes working together.

"The Navajo's the largest reservation in the U.S. We're the second largest in the U.S., so we thought it would be nice if we started a government to government relationship," said Brewer.

This comes at a time when some tribes in the U.S. are having problems because of the government shutdown. Brewer says his nation is not immune to the shutdown.

"We have 62 programs on our reservation so were probably going to have to shut down five of them," Brewer said.

But the Navajo Nation says they're ok for now.

 “We have been able to maintain our government as fully operational," said Erny Zah, Executive assistant to the Navajo Nation president.

But the two tribes are hoping one day they can rely more on each other than the federal government. One idea is to start trading goods with each other.

"Up in our territory we have a lot of buffalo, some of the tribes are saying we would like to have some of our buffalo meat because of all the diabetes problems and they could give us different things," said Brewer.

The two leaders will meet again tomorrow at the Northern Navajo Nation fair.