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Indian Affairs Chairman: Education Key For Tribes

February 19, 2014, 2:13 PM

CROW AGENCY, MT -

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester says he'll use his new role as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to target wasteful spending, improve educational opportunities and promote job development on reservations.

The Montana lawmaker visited the Crow Indian Reservation with fellow Democrat Sen. John Walsh on Wednesday. The pair toured a Head Start education center after a breakfast meeting with tribal leaders.

Tester says dysfunction within agencies overseeing the nation's 566 recognized tribes is draining money from crucial programs including health care and education. He also says too many bureaucratic roadblocks hinder tribes trying to become self-reliant, such as the Crow's attempts to increase coal mining.

But Tester says he'll tread carefully to avoid infringing on the sovereignty of West Coast tribes opposed to coal export terminals in Washington and Oregon.

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