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Each week Native News Online brings you the latest Indian Country news and moves from Washington, D.C. This past week, tribal leaders were excited to know that Indian Country is included in the bipartisan infrastructure deal. Additionally, two bills were introduced to address Native American health disparities and the BIA announced awards to 34 different tribes and Alaska Native corporations totaling over $6.5 million.

Indian Country Included in Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

On Tuesday, the White House released a list of tribal and Native American-specific components of the bipartisan infrastructure deal agreed by President Joe Biden and Democratic and Republican senators. 

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The White House calculates that the overall deal, if it passes both chambers of Congress, will inject $1.2 trillion in total infrastructure spending over eight years, $579 billion of which is new spending.

A substantial portion would go to tribes, but a breakdown was not yet available, according to Tribal Business News.

Indian Country’s portion is part of what the White House is calling the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework: Advancing Economic and Public Health Opportunities for Communities of Color,” which includes a wide variety of infrastructure improvement projects aimed at Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics. 

CLICK to read all of Tribal Business News article.

FCC to Hold Emergency Connectivity Fund Tribal Training and Listening Session on July 15

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened the initial filing window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a $7.17 billion program that will help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need for remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency period.

The filing window opened June 29, 2021 and will run until August 13, 2021 so eligible schools and libraries can apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve the unmet needs for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons during the COVID-19 emergency period. 

During this application filing window, eligible schools and libraries, in addition to consortia of schools and libraries, can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

On July 15, 2021, from 2-4 pm - EDT, the Commission will host a training and listening session for Tribal leaders, staff, organizations, and outreach partners on its Emergency Connectivity Fund. The July 15 interactive session will start with an overview of the Emergency Connectivity Fund, followed by an opportunity for Tribal participants to ask questions and provide feedback based on their experiences with the Fund to date. The staff will then provide an overview of the application process.

Please register by sending an email with name, contact information, and Tribal affiliation to [email protected].  Pre-registration will allow full interactive participation via WebEx.

Legislation Introduced Address Native American Health Disparities

Two bills to address health disparities in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Taken together, the Native Behavioral Health Access Improvement Act and the Native Health and Wellness Act would address the gap in access to health care resources and achieve better health outcomes for Tribal communities.  

Summary of Bills

H.R. 4251, the Native Behavioral Health Access Improvement Act, establishes a Special Behavioral Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives, modeled after the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, and makes the definition of “Indian” consistent throughout the Affordable Care Act.  

H.R. 4283, the Native Health and Wellness Act creates a new grant program to recruit, train, and mentor native youth and young adults for careers in health care and establishes a new Public Health Block Grant program to address infrastructure needs for tribal communities. Indian country has struggled with a severe health care provider shortage, making it hard for Tribal members to access care. Tribal regions also often lack a robust public health infrastructure because they have historically been left out of the traditional funding mechanisms that have instead gone to states and other local governments. 

BIA Awards $6.5 Million in Energy and Mineral Development Grants to 34 Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced today that it has awarded more than $6.5 million in Energy and Mineral Development Program (EMDP) grants to 27 federally recognized tribes and seven Alaska Native corporations in 15 states. The funding will aid their efforts to identify, study, design and/or develop projects using energy, mineral and natural resources, which, in turn, will help them achieve economic self-sufficiency by developing and controlling their own energy production capabilities.

“Having direct access to a reliable energy source is often taken for granted in the United States, but due to their remote locations, it can be a real challenge for American Indian and Alaska Native communities to achieve that standard,” said Principal Deputy Assistance Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan T. Newland. “The BIA’s Energy and Mineral Development Program grants seek to close this gap by supporting efforts to develop tribally and Alaska Native corporation-owned energy resources to benefit tribal members and ANC shareholders while contributing to Indian Country’s economic progress.”

The Bureau’s EMDP grants help eligible applicants obtain technical assistance funding to hire consultants to identify, evaluate or assess the market for energy or mineral resources that a tribe will process, use, or develop. The grants provide funding that allow the tribe to conduct resource inventories and assessments, feasibility studies, or other pre-development studies necessary to process, use and develop energy and mineral resources.

The FY 2020 EMD grant awardees are:

  • Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Oklahoma ($75,000.00)  
  • Ahtna Incorporated, Alaska ($312,000.00) 
  • Bay Mills Indian Community, Michigan ($115,000.00
  • Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, California ($283,270.00) 
  • Bristol Bay Native Corporation, Alaska ($89,650.00) 
  • Calista Corporation, Alaska ($721,510.00) 
  • Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, California ($350,000.00) 
  • Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Oklahoma ($125,000.00)
  • Chitina Native Corporation, Alaska ($166,650.00)
  • Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Idaho ($69,353.00)
  • Cook Inlet Region Inc., Alaska ($98,140.00) 
  • Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Oregon ($120,000.00)
  • Elk Valley Rancheria, California ($88,008.00)
  • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Minnesota ($96,000.00)  
  • Iñupiat Community of the Artic Slope, Alaska ($280,393.00)
  • Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Michigan ($94,954.00)
  • Lummi Indian Tribe, Washington ($105,000.00) 
  • Metlakatla Indian Community, Alaska ($170,387.00)
  • Middletown Rancheria, California ($86,390.00)
  • Native Village of Port Heiden, Alaska ($192,000.00) 
  • Navajo Nation, Arizona ($475,609.50) 
  • Nunakauiak Yupik Corporation, Alaska ($57,350.00) 
  • Osage Nation, Oklahoma ($96,420.00) 
  • Osage Nation, Oklahoma ($299,645.00)
    Passamaquoddy Tribe – Indian Township, Maine ($80,000.00) 
  • Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Oklahoma ($ 71,475.00)
  • Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma 
  • Pueblo of San Ildefonso 
  • Pueblo of Santa Ana, New Mexico ($93,645.45)
  • Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki), Iowa ($84,969.33)  
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Colorado ($545,000.00) 
  • Tikigaq Corporation, Alaska ($100,000.00
  • Ute Indian Tribe, Utah ($600,000.00)  
  • White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota ($86,930.00)  
  • Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Nebraska ($29,300.00) 

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