American Indian leaders castigated the Carter administration yesterday for neglecting hunger problems on reservations, calling the failure a contradiction of the president's human rights policies.
Tribal representatives meeting here charged that the Department of Agriculture ignored their needs in writing regulations to implement the 1977 food stamp revision law. The law made special provisions for upgrading stamp and commodity distribution on reservations.
The spokesmen said the department disregarded Indians' recommendations in publishing preliminary regulations last month, even after a 15-month delay that the department attributed to special attention given the Indians' suggestions. Ten tribes filed suit in November to force USDA to expedite issuance of the regulations.
Bob Price, a member of the Papago Tribe of Arizona, said he believed the Agriculture Department rejected Indian requests because of "a lot of plain bureaucratic insensitivities, and the fact that upwards of 100,000 hungry Indians just don't carry enough clout in Washington."
Robert Greenstein, special assistant to Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland, said the charges were unfair. The regulations proposed are some of "the most liberal and client-oriented" rules for any federal assistance program, he said. Greenstein said several of the Indians' complaints are legal matters that would be improperly addressed in implementing regulations.