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WASHINGTON — Each week Native News Online provides you the latest news and moves from Washington, D.C. Exciting news came on Monday when the Native American Voting Rights of 2021 and on Thursday when President Joe Biden nominated Confederated of Umatilla Tribes citizen Charles Sams III to become the first Native American to become the director of the National Park Service. Other news is below: 

Federal Coalition Announces National Tribal Broadband Summit

The Department of the Interior on Monday announced a federal coalition between the Department of the Interior, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Service, and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) will hold a summit to improve broadband access across the nation. 

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The summit will be held virtually on Sept. 17, Sept. 24 and Oct. 1. Registration for the 2021 National Tribal Broadband Summit is now open to tribal leaders, representatives of  Tribal  organizations, tribal  colleges and universities, and schools and school districts serving under-connected Native students; tribal  libraries, museums, and cultural centers; private sector stakeholder organizations; and federal program managers and policymakers.

Access to high-speed internet, or even any internet at all, is a problem in many Native communities. Lack of access to the internet was one of the leading causes of low voter registration for the 2020 election among Native communities.

According to a 2018 report by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), approximately 35 percent of those living on Tribal lands lack broadband access. To start solving this issue, this summit provides a space for “leaders across the broadband development ecosystem to share best practices, new ideas, and lessons learned from their real-world experience of bringing high-speed internet to tribal businesses, governments, and homes.” 

“Tribes have been left further behind in the digital divide than most areas of the country due to the consistent lack of infrastructure investment in Indian Country,” says Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo). “This summit represents an opportunity to leverage the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to help ensure the federal government lives up to its responsibilities to tribal communities by bringing broadband to Indian Country, fueling economic development, and ensuring everyone has opportunities to succeed.”

The link to register for the event can be found here

$25 Million Awarded to 14 Tribal Health Facilities by the IHS

Fourteen tribes and tribal organizations are to receive a portion of $25 million as a part of a competitive Small Ambulatory Program from the Indian Health Service (IHS) to fund the construction, expansion or modernization of small ambulatory health care facilities. 

The following tribes and tribal organizations received funding:

  • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – Anchorage, Alaska – $2,000,000
  • Southcentral Foundation – Anchorage, Alaska – $2,000,000
  • The Native Community of Akiachak – Akiachak, Alaska – $2,000,000
  • Kodiak Area Native Association – Kodiak, Alaska – $2,000,000
  • Ninilchik Village Tribe – Ninilchik, Alaska – $1,960,000
  • Seldovia Village Tribe – Seldovia, Alaska – $2,000,000
  • Pit River Health Service – Burney, California – $2,000,000
  • Karuk Tribe – Happy Camp, California – $1,932,560
  • Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Reservation – Browning, Montana – $2,000,000
  • Seneca Nation of Indians – Salamanca, New York –$656,986 
  • Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma – Ponca City, Oklahoma – $600,000 
  • Citizen Potawatomi Nation – Shawnee, Oklahoma – $2,000,000
  • Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas – Livingston, Texas – $2,000,000    
  • Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah – Cedar City, Utah – $2,000,000

This program supports tribes that are working to expand access to various outpatient services for patients.

Since 2001 when the program began, over 60 projects have been funded with a total of over $99 million. 

Tribal Leadership is Invited to Consult on Strengthening Public Safety and Law Enforcement with the Bureau of Justice Assistance

Tribal leaders and tribal designees are invited to participate in the Annual Tribal Consultation with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to discuss and identify criminal justice policy issues and tribal priorities to support tribal justice strategies that will better achieve safer communities. The primary goals of this consultation are to improve law enforcement and public safety in tribal communities and Native villages. This is also to support grant administration and criminal justice policy development to also support local, state, and tribal law enforcement in achieving safer communities. 

Two Sessions

During the first session, the BJA will provide information on tribal justice funding and programs and preview questions that will be posed during the next session.

During the second session, the BJA will hear from tribal leaders and stakeholders to help inform how the BJA tribal assistance funds and programs can best support tribal and Native communities. There will be a set of focus areas for this session including: comprehensive justice system planning, tribal justice facilities, court system enhancements, alcohol and substance abuse programs, civil and criminal legal assistance, alternatives to incarceration, and addressing violent crime in Native communities. 

The primary effort of this session is to clarify those priorities thus resulting in a more efficient delivery of much needed grant funding.  

The second session will also include a facilitated Q&A period for tribal leadership.

Pre-Consultation Session: Overview of BJA Tribal Justice Funding and Programs

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 at 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. EDT

To register, click here.

The National Endowment for the Humanities Awards Oneida Indian Nation a Planning Grant

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) on Tuesday it awarded the Oneida Indian Nation, based in Oneida, New York, a planning grant of $20,789 to preserve tribal archives containing textiles, artifacts, and historical records documenting the Nation’s history, including the personal papers of Chief William Rockwell, who played a pivotal role in a U.S. Supreme Court case preserving the Oneida Reservation, and the pipe of Chief Skenondoa, an American Revolutionary War hero involved in the 1794 Canandaigua Treaty recognizing Oneida sovereignty and land rights.

The grant was given under NEH’s Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections category. The planning project includes a building and collections assessment of the Oneida Indian Nation archives and would result in recommendations to improve sustainability, energy efficiency, and security of the collections.

Neely Bardwell, a Michigan State University student who is interning with Native News Online, contributed to these briefs. 

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