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By Tim Leeds 

Rocky Boy moves ahead with limited U.S. funding


The government of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation said in a press release it is continuing to function despite limited government funding, including continuing to move forward with repairing damage from severe flooding that led to a presidential disaster declaration at the reservation last year.

Interim Vice Chair John "Chance" Houle said the Chippewa Cree Tribe has had limited funds because Congress has failed to enact a full budget through most of the year, causing tribes to function with reduced federal funding since October.

"Many tribal governments and federal agencies have frozen hiring, canceled projects, delayed contracts, reduced grants and curtailed training," Houle said in the release. "However, the Chippewa Cree Tribe has sustained 40-hour work weeks, continued to hire, submit for grants, proceed with projects and provide essential tribal programs to the community."

Interim Chair Bruce Sunchild said tribes also face heavy cuts in the federal budget.

"Tribal programs will feel the ramifications of the cuts," he said. "However, the tribe does intend to continue operating an effective tribal government, despite the monetary setbacks."

The funding for disaster repairs from the flooding last year — the reservation experienced more road damage due to flooding this weekend — is ongoing.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is funding approved projects at the reservation, which must be extensively documented, the release said.

"FEMA can only reimburse for eligible expenses incurred during the declared disaster and any reimbursement must be spentprecisely as directed in the approved project worksheet," the release said.

Sunchild said the tribe absorbed the cost of initial disaster work and continuing to work to

receive reimbursement from FEMA for that work, as well as work on receiving the funding for the projects approved by the agency as disaster repair work.

"There is really no way the tribe could have a surplus of funds on hand," he added.

Council member Harlan Baker said many of the repair projects are still working through the prescribed steps to receive funding.

"It's unfortunate that many people have a misconceived perception that the Chippewa Cree Tribe has received a substantial amount of FEMA dollars," he said.

Council member Rick Morsette said all tribal programs have been impacted by the tribe's absorbing the costs and awaiting reimbursement from FEMA.

"I'm extremely proud that we can actually continue to find the financial resources to provide services to our elderly and youth," he said.


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