CROW AGENCY, Mont. — The pale yellow halls of the Crow government building here are nearly empty these days, with 1,000 of this tribe’s 1,300 employees recently laid off.
Across the way, Rebecca Ten Bear Reed and her children have no running water. And past the nearby grassy hills, families live a dozen to a home, playgrounds have fallen to tatters and this tribe of roughly 13,000 people is now turning to President Trump’s promise to revive coal for its future.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. Ever,” said the tribe’s chief executive, Paul Little Light, explaining that revenue had dwindled as the Crow’s main resource fell from favor. “A lot of people are not Trump fans here. Very few. But we would be his best friends if he brought back coal.”
When thousands of Native Americans converged near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation last year, their stance against the Dakota Access oil pipeline became a global symbol of indigenous opposition to the pro-drilling, pro-mining agenda that Mr. Trump adopted.
But some of the largest tribes in the United States derive their budgets from the very fossil fuels that Mr. Trump has pledged to promote, including the Navajo in the Southwest and the Osage in Oklahoma, as well as smaller tribes like the Southern Ute in Colorado. And the Crow are among several Indian nations looking to the president’s promises to nix Obama-era coal rules, pull back on regulations, or approve new oil and gas wells to help them lift their economies and wrest control from a federal bureaucracy they have often seen as burdensome.
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