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Trump’s plan to penalize poor people on the Snap Program

South Dakota’s lone member for U.S. House of Representatives, Dusty Johnson, is backing the Trump administration’s plan to add work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

There are 31,549 people on SNAP benefits in South Dakota, according to USDA data. Nearly 30 percent of recipients in the state are  Native American. Johnson said this change wouldn’t impact the reservations.

“There is flexibility in the current law that will allow special waivers for areas like Indian reservations that are dealing with high unemployment and what the administration wants to do wouldn’t touch those areas at all,” Johnson said. “What we want to do is in other areas, areas with low unemployment. Let’s get rid of these gimmicks, loopholes in waivers. Let’s get people back to work.”

In the committee hearing, Democrats were strongly against the proposed rule change.

“There is no dignity in taking food away from the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens. It is dishonest and immoral for anyone to assume or suggest that poor people do not want to work, especially if that work only pays an average of $125 a month,” Rep.  Marcia Fudge (D-OH) said.

It is not enough for Johnson to say that Indian reservations will be excluded because of the high unemployment to be found there. Nearly 40,000 Native Americans live off of the Indian reservations in cities like Rapid City, Sioux Falls, and Mitchell and so on. Oftentimes they have a hard time finding work because even in this day and age many white-owned business will not hire Native Americans.

SNAP is the only program that allows them to feed their families. So where do they find the 20 hours of work in communities that will not hire them? Does Congressman Johnson believe that things have improved so much in race relations that all of the businesses have opened their doors wide for hiring Indians?

We still have a long way to go and even if Johnson says it will have no impact on the Indian reservations we have all heard that song before. Donald S. Trump has a special dislike in his heart for Native Americans because he blames them for causing his casinos in New Jersey to fail At one time he said, “Why should they have casinos? Most of them don’t even look like Indians.”

We are sure that there are probably some people addicted to drugs and alcohol that could not and would not work even if offered a job. But they have an illness that needs to be treated and cutting off their access to food is not a cure.

But until we see this bill signed and delivered with a provision that it will not impact poor Native American families living on or off the Indian reservations we will continue to have strong doubts about who this bill is directed at and what people will suffer the most. We appreciate Johnson voting to prevent Trump from bypassing Congress in order to get money for his wall because that took a lot of courage and he has been pounded by some hardcore Republicans since then.

If Johnson is for work requirements for people on SNAP we hope he also considers the many Native Americans living in South Dakota’s cities as well as on the Indian reservations.

(Contact the Editorial Board of Native Sun News Today at

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