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Every week, Native News Online brings you the latest Indian Country news and moves from Washington, D.C.

Indian Affairs is Seeking Business Development Grants

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland announced Thursday that the IA Office of Indian Economic Development (formerly the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development) is soliciting applications for its Native American Business Development Institute grant program. 

NABDI is looking to fund approximately 20 to 35 grants, ranging in value from approximately $25,000 to $75,000, to enable federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to perform feasibility studies and/or design business plans of proposed economic development projects, businesses and technologies.

Feasibility studies may also explore how a current tribal business or enterprise could recover and adapt to the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition to the feasibility study, NABDI grants may fund business plans for proposed businesses or recovering tribal businesses.

NABDI is a competitive, discretionary grant program.  Proposals must be submitted via the Grants.gov website by 5:00 p.m. AKDT (9:00 p.m. EDT) on July 2, 2021, and will be evaluated on their potential to create jobs and stimulate economic activity within an American Indian or Alaska Native community.  OIED’s solicitation for NABDI funding and details on how to apply can be found at Grants.gov.

Questions about NABDI may be addressed to: Mr. James R. West, Native American Business Development Institute Manager, Office of Indian Economic Development, Room 6049-B, 12220 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia 20191; telephone: (202) 595-4766; e-mail: [email protected].

Legislation Introduced to Assist Tribes Combat Covid-19 and Other Health Crises 

U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced bipartisan legislation to help Tribes address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and other public health challenges. The Tribal Health Data Improvement Act would strengthen data sharing between tribes, tribal epidemiology centers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

During the Covid-19 pandemic, tribes and tribal epidemiology centers have been denied access to public health data about the virus spreading near tribal lands, despite their authority to receive this data. This bill clarifies that tribes and tribal epidemiology centers, as public health authorities, should be granted access to the data they request.

“The National Indian Health Board supports a bill that strengthens public health data for Tribes, and Tribes believe that the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act will help fill gaps in the access, quality and delivery of data for Tribes and Tribal Epidemiology Centers who are at the forefront of COVID-19 activities like testing and contact tracing. The pandemic has transformed the way healthcare services are delivered for the Indian Health Service and Tribal facilities, and Tribes hope this bill will ease concerns over the lack of lack of direct Tribal access to COVID-19 data,” Samuel Moose, NIHB Treasurer and Bemidji Area Representative and Director of Human Services at Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa said. 

You can read a summary of the bill here and bill text here.

Indian Affairs Approves Colville Confederated Tribes’ Leasing Regs Under the HEARTH Act 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced Thursday that it has approved business leasing regulations submitted by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, a federally recognized tribe in Washington state, under the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership (HEARTH) Act of 2012.

The approval establishes the Tribes’ authority to govern and manage leasing of their Indian lands without additional BIA review or Secretarial approval. The Bureau anticipates the action will enable Colville to expand its opportunities for economic development and business activities.

“Today’s announcement provides Colville tribal leaders greater flexibility and easier approval of its business leasing regulations under the HEARTH Act,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland.  

Other interested tribes may submit HEARTH applications to the BIA for agricultural and business leases of tribal trust lands for a primary term of 25 years and up to two renewal terms of 25 years each.  Leases of tribal trust lands for residential, recreational, religious or educational purposes may be executed for a primary term of up to 75 years.

Interested tribes may submit their regulations by mail to:

U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs

Office of Trust Services, Deputy Bureau Director–Trust Services

Attention: Division of Real Estate Services

1849 C Street, N.W., MS-4620-MIB

Washington, D.C. 20240

Indian Health Service Tribal Consultation

This week the Indian Health Service (IHS) sent a Dear Tribal Leader Letter announcing Tribal Consultation to seek input and recommendations to improve the Indian Health Service Tribal Consultation Policy.  HS is creating an IHS/Tribal workgroup to update their Policy.  Please send nominations for Consultation Workgroup members to your respective IHS Area Director by Tuesday, June 15, 2021. IHS will be holding a virtual consultation session on Tuesday, June 8th at 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm - EDT. Written comments can be submitted to [email protected] by June 15, 2021.

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