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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.

Three More Tribes Gain HEARTH Act Approval

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced on Thursday that regulations submitted by three federally-recognized Tribes under the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership (HEARTH) Act of 2012 have been approved.

The three Tribes – Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, Pueblo of Jemez in New Mexico, and Table Mountain Rancheria in California – now have the authority to govern and manage the leasing of their Indian trust and restricted fee lands for agriculture, business, residential, solar and wind energy evaluation purposes without additional review by the Interior Department.

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“Since its enactment almost a decade ago, the HEARTH Act has been living up to Congress’s intent that Tribal nations decide how best to utilize and protect trust and restricted lands for the benefit of their peoples,” Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said. “The HEARTH Act continues to aid Tribal efforts in building sustainable economies that support their self-determination and sovereignty.”

The types of leasing regulations approved are:

Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona: business site leasing ordinance, residential leasing ordinance and wind and solar leasing code.

Pueblo of Jemez: agriculture, business and wind and solar leasing code and residential leasing code.

Table Mountain Rancheria: residential leasing regulations.

The three approvals announced are among the 69 Tribal nations that have received Secretarial approval for leasing regulations, with another 21 awaiting approval.

Under the HEARTH Act, the Secretary is authorized to approve Tribal regulations if they are consistent with the Department’s leasing regulations and provide for an environmental review process that meets requirements set forth in the Act. Once a Tribe’s HEARTH application is approved, it can negotiate and enter into leases without further approvals.

The BIA Office of Trust Services’ Division of Real Estate Services (DRES) administers the HEARTH Act review process for tribal leasing regulations applications. Interested tribes may submit their regulations by mail to: 

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

Office of Trust Services

Attention: Division of Real Estate Services

1001 Indian School Road NW, Box 44

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104

Over 70 Environment and Outdoor Recreation Groups Call on Speedy Confirmation of Charles F. Sams III for National Park Service Director 

The Trust for Public Land sent a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin, Chairman of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Ranking Member Sen. John Barrasso strongly supporting President Biden’s nomination of Charles F. Sams III to serve as the 19th director of the National Park Service (NPS) and urging them to favorably report his nomination to the full Senate for timely action. The letter has been signed by over 70 national, community, and business organizations from across the country. 

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Sams, a tribal citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, will become the first American Indian to ever serve as director of teh National Park Service. 

“This letter makes clear the environment and outdoor recreation community stand firmly behind President Biden's pick to run the National Park Service,”  Jordan Schreiber, Sr. Director of Policy, Advocacy and Government at The Trust for Public Land said. “Charles F. Sams III is a visionary conservation leader with a deep demonstrated commitment to natural and cultural resources and the communities that depend on them. We hope his nomination gets swift and unanimous confirmation."   

The letter says his long career has been dedicated to the protection of, and equitable access to, irreplaceable resource lands; to sound management of treasured landscapes; and to careful balancing of complex equities to meet essential responsibilities to diverse interests.  His unique, invaluable perspective and deep experience regarding land and water management, law enforcement, facilities and infrastructure, youth programs, fish and wildlife resources, and cultural sites make him an ideal candidate for this most critical leadership position.   

"We urgently need a director capable of navigating these challenges. Mr. Sams’s possesses the demonstrated executive and organizational management skills for that role, proven in his current and former leadership at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, the Community Energy Project, the Indian Country Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land’s Tribal Lands Program, and beyond," the letter cointinues. 

Rep. Sharice Davids introduces the Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act of 2021

Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Representative Neguse (D-CO) introduced the Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act of 2021 which, if passed, will give Native American owned small businesses a seat at the table within the Small Business Administration (SBA). 

READ more the Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act of 2021 in Tribal Business News

Currently, although the SBA does have an Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) whose job is to support Native American entrepreneurs, conduct outreach with tribal communities, and connect Native business owners with SBA resources, their funding is not explicit in the SBA budget and is insufficient.  

This act would double the funding for the ONAA to $5 million annually and also create an Associate Administrator position to set direction for the ONAA. It will also update the office’s mission to better establish a government-to-government relationship with various tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. The ONAA would also expand, so it would have the power for grant-making, establishing field offices, and to conduct tribal consultations, utilize SBA’s entrepreneurial and contracting programs, and provide training, counseling, and technical assistance. 

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of o9ur communities and our economy--and tribal businesses are often important employers for tribal reservations and their surrounding areas.” She continues on to say “We must break down barriers and increase access to resources so that every entrepreneur and business owner has the opportunity to grow their business and succeed, and it starts by giving folks a seat at the table,” Rep. Davids 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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November is  Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:

  • Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
  • Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.  
  • Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country.  We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.   

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