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WASHINGTON — In addition to articles already covered by Native News Online, here is a roundup of other news released from Washington, D.C. that impacts Indian Country last week.

Comment Period for Draft Bill to Update Indian Arts & Crafts Act Extended

 The deadline for comment submission to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the discussion draft of the Amendments to Respect Traditional Indigenous Skill and Talent (ARTIST) Act of 2023 has been extended to May 19, 2023. 

Comments may be submitted to [email protected].

 The ARTIST Act would update the Indian Arts and Crafts Act to support creative economies and strengthen enforcement of current law and protections against counterfeit competition for Native artists and their works. Comments will be used to further inform the legislative process and serve as a resource for future discussions on updating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

The Committee will also hold a virtual listening session, “The ARTIST Act: Updating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act,” on the discussion draft on April 26 at 2:30 p.m. ET. More details on the listening session are forthcoming.

Patrice H. Kunesh to be Sworn in as Commissioner of ANA on Tuesday, April 18  

Patrice Kunesh (Standing Rock Lakota), President Joe Biden's choice to lead the Administration for Native Americans as commissioner, will be sworn-in on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 in Department of Health and Human Services' Great Hall of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building at 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC on Tuesday, April 18 at 1:30 p.m. - EDT.

The ANA is a program office within the United States Department of Health and Human Services. ANA works to promote self-sufficiency and economic opportunity for Native Americans by providing funding for community-based projects, training, and technical assistance to eligible Tribal Nations and Native organizations.

The position required the U.S. Senate's approval. Kunesh was confirmed by the Senate on March 8, 2023.

Bipartisan Effort to Reintroduce Funding Reauthorization for Special Diabetes Program for Indians

Representatives Tom Cole (OK-R-04) and Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-D-25) announced on Wednesday they reintroduced legislation to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI), 

Currently, SDPI serves nearly 780,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives each year and is set to expire September 30, 2023. The legislation would extend funding for the program through fiscal year 2028.

“Since 1997, SDPI has significantly improved the trajectory of diabetes in Indian Country,” Rep. Cole (Chickasaw) said. “By allowing tribes to create public health programs for diabetes prevention and treatment, they can better promote healthy living to prevent diabetes and significantly improve the health outcomes and quality of life for many Native Americans. I am proud to join my colleague in the reintroduction of this critical legislation to ensure the continuation of this highly successful and effective program.”

“As a physician, I care deeply about health equity," Dr. Ruiz said. "Diabetes disproportionately impacts Tribal communities, and when left untreated, can lead to higher risks of strokes, blindness, renal failure, and amputations. Reauthorizing this program is important to addressing health disparities for Tribal communities. That is why I am pleased to coauthor this legislation with Congressman Cole and to approach this issue in a bipartisan manner.”

The SDPI has helped to decreased diabetes among American Indians and Alask Natives by 5.5 percent.

Bipartisan Legislation to Prepare for Inevitable End to Federal Cannabis Prohibition Introduced

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY) and Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to better and immediately prepare the federal government for the inevitable end to cannabis prohibition. Titled the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulated Environment (PREPARE) Act, this bill creates a fair, honest and publicly transparent process for the federal government to establish effective regulations to be enacted upon the termination of its 86-year prohibition of cannabis. 

Joyce and Jeffries designed the PREPARE Act to provide experts across the ideological spectrum the opportunity to engage on cannabis reform and best equip lawmakers with the information necessary to establish a safe and effective federal regulatory system. Without such engagement, it is unlikely Congress can establish the bipartisan consensus necessary to enact the federal cannabis policy change Americans across the country have called for.  

The PREPARE Act would direct the Attorney General of the United States to establish the ‘Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis’ to advise on the development of a regulatory framework modeled after Federal and State regulatory frameworks with respect to alcohol. Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Direct federal regulators to develop a regulatory and revenue framework to ensure safe production and consumption of cannabis, which would account for the unique needs, rights and laws of each state, and present such a framework to Congress within one year;
  • Build upon the Obama and Trump Administrations’ efforts to remedy the unjust consequences of the war on cannabis, particularly those suffered by minority, low-income, and veteran communities;
  • Help grant medical professionals critical research access and training,
  • Develop protections for the hemp industry, including cross pollination prevention efforts. 
  • Help ensure that absent the physician prescribed treatment of a minor, cannabis remain an adult-only product. 

“Once again Indian Country applauds both Representative David Joyce and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries for their tremendous leadership in preparing the way for plant medicine to help heal the trauma of this nation. Central to this sacred effort is having the original healers of our country - it’s Indigenous people - at the genesis of this journey,” Tom Rodgers (Blackfeet Nation), Acting President of the Global Indigenous Council said. 



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