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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 during the past week.

Indigenous Communities Program No Longer Accepting Applications; Demand Exceeds Availability of Funds

The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced it will cut off the applications for funding through its Indigenous Communities Program as of April 19, 2022.

The reason is because the demand has far exceeded the $100 million appropriated for the program. To date, the EDA has received applications for over $400 million, which accounts for over four times the appropriated amount.

If a community is currently working on an application that is eligible and responsive to this program, the application may be eligible under EDA's regular programming. EDA encourages communities to connect with their local Economic Development Representative (EDR). EDRs can advise how to best move forward and if a project is suitable for other EDA funding opportunities.

Other closed programs:

  • Build Back Better Regional Challenge: Phase 1 finalists have been selected for the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, and they have submitted their Phase 2 proposals, which were due on March 15, 2022.
  • Good Jobs Challenge: Applications for the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge were due on February 10, 2022.
  • Statewide Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation: EDA awarded $510 million in Statewide Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Grants in 2021.
  • Statewide Planning: EDA has also awarded the $59 million in Statewide Planning grants in 2021.
  • Competitive Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation: EDA closed submission for this program as of 10:00 a.m. ET on February 10, 2022 due to high demand and limited availability of funding.

There are other programs open with available funding to support communities that may have been impacted by these closed programs. More information can be found here.

Biden-Harris Administration’s Agency Equity Plans Include Indian Country

 The Biden-Harris Administration on Thursday released the first-ever Equity Action Plans that encompass more than 90 federal government agencies. The plans are the result of President Biden’s Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. 
White House officials pointed out advancing equity is not a one-year project—it is a generational commitment.
 
Delivering Greater Equity for the American People
 
Across the federal government, agencies are taking ambitious action to expand federal investment and support in communities that have been locked out of opportunity for too long, including Indian Country.

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The White House provided an overview of several federal agencies plans:

  • The Department of the Interioris providing technical assistance to Tribes to help them navigate grant application processes, and partnering with Tribal Colleges and Universities to build capacity for Tribes to apply for funding.
     
  • The Department of Commerceis investing nearly $50 billion in broadband infrastructure deployment, affordability, and digital inclusion efforts to help close the digital divide, particularly for rural and Tribal communities.
     
  • The Department of Health and Human Servicesis increasing outreach to communities of color to encourage enrollment in free and low-cost health care, and is addressing the maternal mortality crisis that disproportionately impacts Black and Native families, including by working with states to extend postpartum coverage in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. 
      
  • The Department of Veterans Affairsis advancing health equity by further addressing the social and economic determinants of health for underserved veterans, including veterans of color, women veterans, and LGBTQI+ veterans. The Department is also launching a Data for Equity strategy, a veteran-centered model that will synchronize data on health care, disability benefits, and other services to identify and address gaps.
     
  • The S. Department of Agricultureis expanding equitable access to nutrition assistance programs and strengthening gender equity by implementing a national awareness campaign and expanding the implementation of online ordering in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program.
     
  • The Department of Educationis advancing college access and college completion by investing in HBCUs, TCCUs, MSIs, community colleges, and other under-resourced public institutions, and supporting schools to raise college completion rates for underserved students.
     
  • The Department of Energyis ensuring equitable access to weatherization assistance programs so that low-income households have increased access to energy security.
     
  • The Small Business Administrationis investing in improved technology to increase access to capital for businesses in underserved communities and minority-owned businesses by streamlining program applications and integrating data.
Legislation Introduced to Expand the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument

U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein (both D-Calif.) announced the introduction of legislation to expand the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument to include approximately 3,925 acres of adjacent Bureau of Land Management-administered public lands in Lake County, California.

It would also require the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to improve tribal engagement and co-management of the National Monument, including for historic preservation, archaeological sites, and forest health. Congressmen John Garamendi (D-Calif.-03) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.-05) lead the legislation in the House.

“For over 11,000 years, dozens of tribes have called ‘Molok Luyuk’ home, and with the enactment of our bill, we can ensure that their unique tribal knowledge, history, and cultural practices will permanently be part of the National Monument,” Sen. Padilla said.

“This region of California is rich with Native American cultural landmarks and diverse ecosystems and wildlife. Since 2015, I’ve worked to protect and expand the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, securing more than 330,000 acres for federal protection. Sen. Feinstein said.

“Molok Luyuk – or Condor Ridge – is a special part of Northern California and deserves special protections. We appreciate Senator Padilla and Feinstein’s leadership on this and their insistence that Native American voices be part of the conversation,” said Chairman Anthony Roberts of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. “Our ancestors traveled and traded there for centuries. With these protections, the unique resources on Molok Luyuk will endure, and Californians will be able to enjoy its natural beauty for generations to come.”

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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