This week, a U.S. Senate appropriations committee discussed President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 Indian Country budget. During that hearing, Montana Senator Steve Daines pointed to the health disparities in Indian Country and urged for a better use of funds.

“A recent study showed in Montana that white men live 19 years longer than American Indian men and white women live 20 years longer than American Indian women,” said Daines. “I know there are other factors involved, but I do believe it’s unacceptable that we’ve reached disparities like these. I urge you to address the real health challenges facing Indian Country and really turn the focus back to results versus just activities.”

During a separate sub-committee meeting with the interior department, Daines brought up the issue of wildfire management on tribal lands and pushed for more autonomy.

“In 2015, Montana experienced one of its worst fire seasons and Montana’s tribal Reservations were no exception,” Daines said. “Here’s one of the challenges: Often times, these fires start on federal lands and then spread to tribal lands. Do you support increasing tribes authority to more actively manage tribal trust force lands and the neighboring federal forest lands?”

Bureau of Indian Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary Larry Roberts committed to working with the USDA to find a better system of wildfire management.