Montana Indian Reservations:

Funding of Selected Services, Taxation of Real Property

HRD-89-1BR: Published: Oct 11, 1988. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on health care, social services, education, and real property taxes on four Indian reservations in Montana to determine: (1) what the state and Indians living on reservations spent on health care, social service programs, and education; and (2) if the counties assessed real property taxes on trust lands and tribal lands located within county borders and on lands within reservation boundaries.

GAO found that: (1) Indians received county- or state-funded medical assistance unless they were eligible for Medicaid or Indian Health Service (IHS) programs; (2) IHS provided health care services in its facilities or paid for services in non-IHS facilities totalling $23 million, while Indian tribes on the four reservations spent $306,000 for health-related activities; (3) the counties or state funded social services to reservation Indians who were ineligible for other federal- and state-funded programs and did not receive Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) assistance; and (4) the state provided $86,000 in child welfare, Aid to Families with Dependent Children program and foster care program funds totalled $5.2 million and $203,000, respectively, BIA funded about $2.9 million in general assistance and $708,000 in child welfare assistance, and tribes provided $839,000 in general assistance. GAO also found that: (1) Indian students attended schools in districts that often overlapped reservation boundaries and served both Indian and non-Indian students; and (2) the federal government, state, counties, and school districts funded public education totalling about $60.8 million and tribes provided about $282,000 for education. In addition, GAO found that: (1) real property on reservations that either the tribes or the federal government held in trust or that tribes owned was not taxed; (2) non-Indian-owned real property and individual-Indian-owned reservation property was taxed; and (3) counties billed the Blackfeet and Flathead reservations about $2,160,000 and $6,033,800, respectively, and the Fort Belnap and Northern Cheyenne reservations about $24,600 and $8,100, respectively.

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