From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. --
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, spoke Thursday morning at the National Congress of American Indians, as part of the group's annual "State of Indian Nations" address.
Murkowski said she's worried about a proposed federal spending freeze and its effect on Indian Country, because it comes at a time of "great financial stress for the nation."
"I understand that this is a cause of great anxiety throughout Indian County," she said. "Indian programs remain among the most underfunded programs in the entire federal government."
Funding gaps are still "quite significant," she said, but added that Indian programs and the federal responsibility for them are firmly rooted in the Constitution. In the coming months as the federal budget is being drawn up, Murkowski said, they must use that argument -- that funding for Indian country is not "nice to have," but "must-have."
Her speech begins at the 25 minute mark.