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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.

House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples Host Hearing to Discuss Solutions to Cultural and Environmental Preservation

The House Natural Resources’ Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples held a hearing on Tuesday to develop solutions to the environmental problems the U.S. faces. Specifically, these solutions include ways the U.S. can use and elevate Indigenous-led resource management practices. 

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Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM) pointed out New Mexico faces worsening impacts of climate change during the hearing. Rep. Stansbury highlighted the conservation efforts of Santa Ana and Santa Clara Pueblos and emphasized the critical importance of Indigenous communities as stewards of the air, land and water on Earth.

Stansbury also emphasized the importance of increasing Indigenous leadership in resource management.

“Our Indigenous communities manage the land and water this way because they know it is intrinsically sacred, it is vital to cultural preservation, and it is core to the well-being of our communities and future generations,” Rep. Stansbury said. “As the testimony has highlighted, there is such an important need to lift up Indigenous resource management and support the development of future generations in this work. As a partner, I believe the U.S. government has a fundamental responsibility to acknowledge its dark past, right the wrongs of the past, and acknowledge and honor tribal sovereignty.”

Rep. Stansbury questioned White Earth Nation Chairman Michael Fairbanks:

“What do you think the federal government can do to help support Tribal sovereignty, promote traditional stewardship and management of natural resources, and help to develop the next generation and develop a pathway for Indigenous natural resource managers?”

Fairbanks responded by emphasizing that Indigenous people are the stewards of this Earth, saying:

“As a tribe, we are the stewards of our lands...We’ve been trying to reach out to co-manage our forest with these agencies because we’ve been doing this for a long time. A lot of the Indigenous trees that we want back home here, we’re requesting that they be replanted like some of our cedars that are very sacred to us that are used for so many of our sacred ceremonies...We’re connected and those are just some of the examples of the connection that we have. And management is something that we would love to do...if we can have meaningful consultation.”

Department of the Interior Announces Next Steps for the Indian Youth Service Corps Program

The U.S. Department of the Interior on Thursday released  a draft guidelines to implement the Indian Youth Service Corps Program. Along with these guidelines, they also announced that it would hold Nation-to-Nation consultations with Tribes, Alaska Native corporations and the Native Hawaiian community to talk about the implementation of the program. 

This program is meant to provide education, employment, and training opportunities to Indigenous Youth through conservation projects on public lands, Indian lands, and Hawaiian homelands. Through this program, the goal is to set young people on a path to good paying jobs that are focused on tackling the current climate crisis. 

“The Indian Youth Service Corps Program has the potential to transform the lives of Indigenous youth all across our country,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Young people are the future stewards of our lands, waters, and resources. I am thrilled that the Interior Department can provide greater opportunities to learn, work, and train in a variety of innovative and transformative conservation projects.”

Consultation for all Tribes east of the Mississippi River

Consultation for all Tribes west of the Mississippi River and Alaska Native corporations

Consultation for Native Hawaiian Organizations

Sen. Murkowski pushes for Treasury Office of Tribal Affairs; Treasury Dept. Promises ‘Forthcoming Response’

Tribal Business News, Native News Online’s sister publication, reports the Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is reiterating her call for the creation of an Office of Tribal Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

A group of five bipartisan senators sent a letter on Sept. 29 to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking her to immediately establish an Office of Tribal Affairs. 

Citing a variety of Native concerns in dealing with the agency and its distribution of pandemic relief to tribes, the senators want better tribal consultation and improved outreach on tribal tax and finance issues, economic development, capital needs and trade policy. 

The Indian Affairs Office of Indian Economic Development is Seeking Applications for Living Language Grants

The Indian Affairs Office of Economic Development announced on Tuesday that they are looking for applications for its Living languages Grant Program. These funds enable federally-recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal entities to support programs that document Native languages and support Tribes that are looking to create or expand language preservation programs. 

OIED is looking to fund about 15 to 60 grants ranging in value from approximately $25,000 to $200,000. 

“Preserving Native languages is fundamental to preserving all aspects of Tribal cultures and traditions,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “The Living Languages Grant Program can help sustain Indigenous knowledge that can only be transmitted through Tribal languages. I encourage Tribes interested in developing their language preservation programs to apply under this solicitation.”

Details on how to apply can be found in the Federal Register here and at Grants.Gov. Questions about this application  may be addressed to Mr. Dennis Wilson, Division of Economic Development Grants Manager, Office of Indian Economic Development - Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, at 505-917-3235 or [email protected].

FCC Approves Additional 2.5 GHz Spectrum Licenses to Serve Alaska Native Communities

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau on Friday granted twenty additional 2.5 GHz spectrum licenses to serve Alaskan Native communities. To date, 292 applications received through last year’s FCC Rural Tribal Priority Window have been granted, paving the way for new advanced wireless services – including wireless broadband – for underserved rural Tribal communities.  In Alaska, 99 applications have now been granted. 

“Connecting Alaskan Native communities to broadband services is vitally important. Too many lack the connectivity needed to take advantage of today’s health, education, communications, and business online resources. Today’s announcement continues our progress in leveraging 2.5 GHz band spectrum to increase Tribal connectivity,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “From the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program’s additional support for tribal households to our new effort to amend E-Rate rules to support broadband for tribal libraries, we are using every option available to us to make a difference for tribal communities.” 

The licenses granted provide for exclusive use of up to 117.5 megahertz of 2.5 GHz band spectrum that tribes can use to connect their rural communities to wireless broadband and other advanced services. The FCC’s staff continues to review and process all applications received during the window. More information on application processing and status may be found at www.fcc.gov/ruraltribalwindowupdates.  

Natural Resources Committee to Hold Water Rights Hearing This coming Thursday

The Natural Resources Committee is holding one livestreamed event on this coming Thursday, November 4.

The Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, led by Chair Jared Huffman (D-CA), will hold a legislative hearing on the following bills:

  • Res. 320 (Neguse), Recognizing the critical importance of access to reliable, clean drinking water for Native Americans and Alaska Natives and confirming the responsibility of the federal government to ensure such water access.
  • R. 4832 (Susie Lee), To establish the Open Access Evapotranspiration (OpenET) Data Program. Open Access Evapotranspiration Data Act.
  • R. 5001 (Neguse), To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to continue to implement endangered fish recovery programs for the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins, and for other purposes. Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act.
  • R. 5345 (Blake Moore), To authorize the Director of the United States Geological Survey to establish a regional program to assess, monitor, and benefit the hydrology of saline lakes in the Great Basin and the migratory birds and other wildlife dependent on those habitats, and for other purposes. Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act of 2021.

Witnesses

Panel I: Congressional Panel

  • Joe Neguse (D-Colo.)
  • Susie Lee (D-Nev.)
  • Blake Moore (R-Utah)

Panel II: Government Panel

  • Tanya Trujillo (H.Res. 320, H.R. 4832, H.R. 5001, and H.R. 5345), Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Bidtah Becker (H.Res. 320 and H.R. 5001), Associate Attorney, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority

Panel III: Expert Witness Panel

  • Sara Porterfield (H.R. 4831 and H.R. 5345), Water Policy Associate, Trout Unlim
  • Rebecca Mitchell (H.R. 5001), Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board
  • Minority Witness TBD

When: 10:00 a.m. Eastern time

Watch Live: https://youtu.be/XRKuqzmYJHE

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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