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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.

12 Tribes More Tribes Added to Program that Enhances Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases

The U.S. Dept. of Justice on Thursday announced the selection of additional 12 federally recognized tribes to participate in their expansion of the Tribal Access Program (TAP) for National Crime Information. 

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This program was originally launched in 2015 by the DOJ with the intended purpose of ensuring the exchange of critical data across the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) systems and other national crime information systems. Other systems include the Next Generation Identification that holds the database of fingerprints, palm prints, and mugshots, and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. 

By allowing Tribal governments to access, enter, and exchange information with this system, programs like foster children placement can proceed in a much safer manner.

The 108 federally recognized tribes currently a part of TAP are also able to participate in various training programs and software and biometric/biographic kiosk workstations to process fingerprints, take mugshots, and submit information to the FBI CJIS. 

The following tribes have been selected to participate in TAP:

  • Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation
  • Cow Creek Band of Umpqua
  • Fort Belknap Indian Community
  • Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa
  • Havasupai Tribe
  • Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
  • Menominee Tribe
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Muckleshoot Tribe
  • Passamaquoddy Tribe
  • Shingle Springs Band of Miwok
  • United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee
FDIC launches new fund to support minority owned banks; 18 Native banks eligible

A new equity program originated by the FDIC could be a game-changer for Native American-owned banks, but the devil is in the details whether the investment will be a good deal for those financial institutions.

On Thursday, the FDIC unveiled initial investments of $120 million in the Mission-Driven Bank Fund, a new financial tool designed to support Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) across the country. 

There are 18 eligible Native American banks with a combined $6.3 billion in assets across the country.  Most are clustered in Oklahoma, with others in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina. 

Read More in our sister publication Tribal Business News.

2021 Native American CDFI Program Technical Assistance Awards Announced

The Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program) received funds from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Technical Assistance Awards program from its Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund).

The NACA Program facilitates the creation and advancement of Native CDFIs. Organizations funded through the NACA Program serve a wide range of Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities, and reflect a diversity of institutions in various stages of development, including: organizations in the early planning stages of CDFI formation; tribal entities working to certify an existing lending program; and established Native CDFIs in need of further capacity building assistance.

For FY 2021, 17 organizations received $2.5 million in NACA Program Technical Assistance Awards. The maximum award amount available was $150,000.

The CDFI Fund also provides Financial Assistance Awards through the CDFI Program and NACA Program to further expand and support the financing activities of CDFIs. The CDFI Fund anticipates announcing the FY 2021 Financial Assistance Awards later in calendar year 2021.

To learn more about the CDFI Fund and its programs, please visit www.cdfifund.gov. Additional information about the CDFI Program is available at www.cdfifund.gov/cdfi, and the NACA Program at www.cdfifund.gov/native.

The NAHASDA Reauthorization Advances to Full House for Consideration

The Native American Housing And Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2021 (H.R.5195), commonly known as NAHASDA, has been sent from the Committee of Financial Services to the House floor for consideration in the future. The bill was first introduced on September 7, 2021 by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA). 

This bill would primarily reauthorize and renew the expiring Native American And Self-Determination Act of 1996. This Act of 1996 simplified and reorganized the system that provided housing assistance to federally recognized Tribes. This was passed in order to help improve Native communities’ housing and other infrastructure.  

Interior Department & Intertribal Timber Council Strengthen Wildland Fire Management Collaboration

The Department of the Interior on Wednesday announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Intertribal Timber Council. This agreement emphasizes the importance of collaborating on wildland fire management across departmental and Tribal lands. The MOU was announced during the Intertribal Timber Council Board of Director’s September quarterly meeting.

Approximately 6.5 million acres of land managed by the Interior Department are in close proximity to Tribal land, separated by 50 miles or less. The proximity and interconnectedness of these lands necessitates close communication and collaboration on wildland fire management.

“By making smart investments in critical infrastructure, wildland fire response and key partnerships, the Department of the Interior is helping lead the Biden-Harris administration’s response to the increasingly complex fire environment, including on Tribal lands,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “By strengthening our ties and improving collaboration with stakeholders like the Intertribal Timber Council, we will improve our efforts to more effectively reduce wildfire risk, rehabilitate burned landscapes, promote a better understanding of wildfire and support our firefighters.”

The memorandum of understanding between Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire and the Intertribal Timber Council commits to undertake mutually beneficial actions and work collaboratively to reduce wildland fire risk and mitigate post-wildfire impacts. In particular, both organizations agree to:

  • Identify shared values
  • Utilize information technology to improve decision making among partners
  • Highlight common conservation priorities to combat the effects of climate change
  • Coordinate on workforce development efforts
  • Facilitate the exchange of perspectives and information to increase awareness, understanding, and engagement between the two organizations

“There is no single entity across wildland fire management that will be able to successfully manage the landscape before, during and after a wildfire without help,” said Cody Desautel, President of the Intertribal Timber Council. “The Intertribal Timber Council looks forward to the continued effort to pursue and promote stewardship of our lands for the benefit of our communities.”

Interior Dept. to Hold Tribal Consultation on Protecting and Restoring Tribal Homelands

The U.S. Department of the Interior will begin consultations with tribes to continue its efforts to strengthen the ability of sovereign nations to establish and consolidate their homelands. The full consultation notice can be found HERE.

The Interior Department is asking Tribes to provide feedback in consultations that will focus on three specific topics: 

  • The land-into-trust process; 
  • Leasing and rights-of-way; and 
  • Sacred sites and treaty rights.

“At Interior, we have an obligation to work with Tribes to protect their lands and ensure that each community has a homeland where its citizens can live together to lead safe and fulfilling lives,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said. “These important actions are a step in the right direction to restore homelands that will strengthen Tribal communities.”

The consultations will be held over zoom, and you must pre-register to participate.

For Tribes in the Eastern and Central Time Zones: 
Thursday, October 21, 2021 (2 - 4 pm - EDT / 1 - 3 pm - CDT)
Registration Link 

For Tribes in the Mountain Daylight Time Zone: 
Monday, October 25, 2021 (1 – 3 pm - MDT)
Registration Link 

For Tribes in the Pacific and Mountain Standard Time Zones: 
Tuesday, October 26, 2021 (10 am – Noon - PDT)
Registration Link 

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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