The response to natural disasters and other emergencies in American Indian communities is expected to improve thanks to legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama.
Tribes are now able to seek federal disaster aid directly from the president rather than waiting for state governors to make a declaration. The provision was included in the $50.5 billion emergency measure Obama signed earlier this week to help victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Tribes have been pushing to streamline the process for more than a decade.
The effort gained steam last summer when Congress was flooded with letters of support from tribes, the American Red Cross and the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Former Santa Clara Pueblo Gov. Walter Dasheno says tribal leaders wanted a direct line of communication with the president, especially during times of need.
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