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WASHINGTON — In addition to news already covered during the previous week, each Sunday Native News Online provides an overview of activity in Washington, D.C. that impacts Indian Country during the past week.

Confirmation Hearing for National Park Service Director Nominee Charles Sams is Scheduled for October 19, 2021

The U.S. Senate has scheduled President Joe Biden's nominee to become director of the National Parks Service Charles F. Sams’ confirmation hearing for Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.If confirmed, Sams will be the first Native American to head the National Park Service. The president nominated Sams in August.

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Sams is an enrolled tribal citizen of the Caycuse and Walla Walla, of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. 

Sams has worked in state and Tribal governments and the nonprofit natural resource and conservation management fields for more than 25 years.

Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy is hosting a virtual listening session for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

On October 27, 2021, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will host a virtual listening session for tribal leaders, staff and organizations. This session will include an overview of the proposal in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), and there will also be opportunity for participants to ask questions and provide input. 

This session will take place from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm (Eastern Time). 

To register, send an email with your name, contact information, and Tribal affiliation to [email protected]. Pre-registering will allow participants to have full interactive participation via WebEx. 

Written comments relating to the NPRM may also be submitted through the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System. Individuals may also request an individual meeting with the Commission staff to discuss its proposals. NPRM Comments are due November 15, 2021. 

Any questions regarding the listening session or the NPRM can be directed to Lloyd Collier at [email protected]

Three Bills to Reinforce Tribal Sovereignty Advance out of Natural Resources Committee

On Thursday, October 14, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed three bills that will impact Indian Country:

The STOP Act (H.R. 2930), sponsored by Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM), would make trafficking sacred Indigenous objects and Tribal patrimony illegal. 

The Indian Buffalo Management Act (H.R. 2074), sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), would implement a fundamental step toward environmental justice by putting federal support behind Tribal initiatives to restore buffalo to their native ecosystems. 

The Urban Indian Health Confer Act (H.R. 5221), sponsored by Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), would require the Department of Health and Human Services to respect the sovereignty of Urban Indian Health Organizations like First Nations Community Health Source in Albuquerque, N.M.

“We passed a number of critical bills out of committee to help restore tribal lands, protect sacred objects, and support tribal resource management and health care.” said Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM). “Of particular importance, we passed the STOP Act to protect the cultural patrimony and sacred objects of our Indigenous communities. We also passed the Indian Buffalo Management Act and the Urban Indian Health Confer Act in committee as well. We must uphold our moral and legal obligations and get these bills done.”

The Department of Labor to Hold a Tribal Consultation on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act 

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that they will hold a tribal consultation to obtain input from tribal nations regarding DOL’s development and incorporation of a standard definition of the sixth of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s six performance indicators. These performance indicators measure the workforce system’s effectiveness in serving employers. 

Of the six primary indicators of performance, five of those are currently defined in regulations; however, in the joint final rule implementing WIOA (81 FR 55791), DOL and the Department of Education determined it was prudent to test various alternatives for the aforementioned sixth performance indicator.

The consultation will take place on Tuesday, October 19, at 2:00 pm - EDT. Registration information can be found here.

​​For further information about the Tribal Consultation, please click here. You can also contact Leo Lestino, Director, Division of Policy, Legislation, and Regulations, Office of Policy Development and Research, Employment and training Administration at 202-693-2873

NCIUH Official Appointed to Department of Veterans Affairs to Tribal Advisory Committee

National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) President Elect and CEO of Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley Sonya Tetnowski was appointed to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) first-ever Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs. Tetnowski is a tribal citizen of Makah Tribe.

The Committee will advise the Veterans Affairs Secretary based on personal experience on all matters relating to Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations, Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs), Native Hawaiian organizations, and Native American Veterans.

“It is an honor to be a part of the first-ever VA Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs. With approximately 160,000 Native Veterans around the country, it is vital to have a representative on the committee that can ensure that the healthcare needs for our Native Veterans is always a part of the broader discussion to ensure we are removing barriers to care while providing culturally competent care. I appreciate the VA's foresight and vision to address these challenges” Tetnowski said.

Neely Bardwell (descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians), a Michigan State University student who is interning with Native News Online, contributed to these briefs.

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