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Tribal Welfare Reform

The Miner's Canary

By Robert J. McCarthy

As part of federal welfare reform, tribes were given the option of administering their own Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs. Inclusion of tribal governments in welfare administration both acknowledges tribal sovereignty and allows tribes to address the unique needs of tribal members with greater sensitivity to the economic, geographic, and cultural circumstances of tribal people. Still, tribal governments lack experience in administrating welfare programs, tribes are not given the resources and flexibility they need to assume this important task effectively, and tribal welfare reform does not accord tribal members due process and equal protection against wrongful denial of assistance.

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