Sioux Falls – U.S. House candidate Paula Hawks challenged her opponent to a debate on one of South Dakota’s nine Indian reservations this fall.
“Tribal communities are often ignored and neglected by politicians. That’s why I made it a point to visit all nine South Dakota Indian reservations during this campaign. Questions need to be answered regarding a host of issues in Indian country. With the stoppage of emergency health care services that occurred for seven straight months in Rosebud earlier this year, I think it only makes sense we host a debate in one of the tribal communities to answer a broad range of questions about how we best serve all South Dakotans. The tribes need to hear directly from us how we hope to stop the near total breakdown in federal governmental services in these communities and provide substantially better representation in Congress on their behalf,” said Hawks.
Hawks has been critical of Noem’s record in Indian country noting she voted for the sequestration budget cuts in 2011 which eliminated $220 million from Indian Health Services. Noem also voted for cuts even worse than sequestration in May 2015 just months before the Rosebud ER closure.
“In 2014, we spent about $8,000 per person nationally on healthcare yet IHS only spent around $3,000 per person. In a situation where the funding discrepancy is so dire, it was irresponsible [for Noem] to cut funding from Indian Health Services. The cognitive dissonance it takes to continually blame the bureaucracy at IHS while at the same time personally voting to remove the tools and resources that were needed to provide quality care is alarming. Inadequate resources and inadequate care is obviously connected. So, I ask my opponent, accept this invitation to debate on one of South Dakota’s nine Indian reservations and let’s speak directly to the people we hope to represent,” Hawks said.