Rapid City Journal Editorial: Where is the Crisis

Rapid City Journal 1-09

Where is the crisis? Where is the most need?

President-elect Barack Obama will run headlong into answering those questions after he’s officially sworn in Jan. 20.

Considering the long list of needs the interpretation of crisis and need will vary depending on whom you ask.

One area that should receive consideration for funding is the nation’s Indian reservations that are facing a health and public safety crisis.

In July, Congress approved a $2 billion request (as part of a $48 billion global AIDS bill) for water projects, public safety and health care on the nation’s reservations. For the money to actually be available to the tribes, however, it must be in the administration’s budget.

Just recently, 22 senators urged Obama to include the $2 billion for the tribes in the administration’s budget. There’s a crisis there, they say.


The money would fund important projects for people in need of assistance. Health care and public safety are both targeted by the funds but the largest share – $1 billion – goes to improve water projects. Without safe and ample water, other improvements on the reservations would be a moot point.

In July, we wrote in support of the safety aspects of the funding, wondering if Congress’ willingness to simply direct money to the problem would lead to a solution.

So much has changed since Congress approved the $2 billion in July. The economy has tumbled to a new low, the housing, auto and lending industries are facing uncertain times.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., pointed out the obvious, speaking in favor of funding for the nations reservations: “We’re going into a very difficult situation with huge federal deficits. My hope is they will allocate some funding to some areas of crisis.”

So do we. Now back to the original question: Where is the crisis? Where is the most need?

That’s what remains to be seen.