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It is imperative that the Navajo Nation engage in meaningful land reform. This chapter highlights the challenges Dinē families face when seeking permission to use tribal trust land. Beginning with an exploration of the motivation behind the Navajo Nation’s recent effort to reform the process for obtaining a homesite lease, the chapter describes how it can be hard to find useable land even on the largest reservation. As the chapter notes, there are many reasons, including the need to find an alternative tax base now that extractive industries such as coal are leaving the reservation, that the central government should be interested in land reform. But hitting the right spot, the amount of paperwork and required fees, when it comes to formalizing use rights is hard. The Navajo Nation faces real difficulties resolving the how much control and what sort of control the central government should exercise over Dinē life, especially as it relates to the home.
Holes in the Safety Net: Federalism and Poverty explores the relationship between antipoverty programs and federalism. The introduction provides a foundation for the rest of the book through an overview of the extent and nature of poverty in the United States as well as a brief history of how welfare programs have changed over time. We are at a moment in which the basic structure of the safety net is uncertain and up for grabs. Proposals to replace existing programs with block grants or to allow states to impose tougher restrictions on welfare recipients abound, often justified using the language of federalism. This chapter introduces these challenges and then provides a roadmap of the rest of the book.
While the United States continues to recover from the 2008 Great Recession, the country still faces unprecedented inequality as increasing numbers of poor families struggle to get by with little assistance from the government. Holes in the Safety Net: Federalism and Poverty offers a grounded look at how states and the federal government provide assistance to poor people. With chapters covering everything from welfare reform to recent efforts by states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, the book avoids unnecessary jargon and instead focuses on how programs operate in practice. This timely work should be read by anyone who cares about poverty, rising inequality, and the relationship between state, local, and federal levels of government.