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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.

Interior Department Invests $16 Million Co-Stewardship and Salmon Conservation in the Arctic, Kuskokwim and Norton Sound Region

The Department of the Interior announced on Friday it is investing more than $16 million over the next four years from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to enhance the resilience of ecosystems and salmon in Alaska’s Yukon, Kuskokwim and Norton Sound region through co-stewardship with Alaska Native Tribes. 

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These initial investments serve as a catalyst for additional public and private sector investments in the region and in the foundational planning, science, and restoration projects needed to respond to the salmon crisis and to heal the broader ecosystem through co-stewardship.

The funding advances the Department’s new Gravel to Gravel initiative, a mountains to the sea restoration approach, unveiled as part of a restoration and resilience framework last month that will guide $2 billion in investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to restore lands and waters and advance climate resilience.

Gravel to Gravel is the Department’s response to a resounding call for federal action from Alaska Native Tribes and subsistence users. 

Rural Health Care

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Wireline Competition Bureau Releases Order DA 23-189 Extending the Close of the Funding Year (FY) 2023 Application Filing Window to May 1, 2023. 

On March 8, 2023, the FCC released an Order (DA 23-189) extending the deadline for filing FY2023 funding requests to May 1, 2023.  

The FY2023 Application Filing Window opened December 1, 2022 and now closes May 1, 2023. This means that you can submit your funding requests (FCC Form 462 or FCC Form 466) no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on May 1, 2023. We highly encourage you to submit your funding requests as early as possible in the filing window. Learn more about filing windows.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2023, RHC will host their Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program office hours webinar at 2 p.m. ET. - Register 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023, RHC will host their Telecommunications (Telecom) Program office hours webinar at 2 p.m. ET - Register

FCC to Host Virtual Tribal Consultation on April 13

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has invited tribal leaders to a virtual consultation on Thursday, April 13 at 3:00 p.m. EDT, to discuss a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) adopted on February 16, seeking comments on improvements to the E-Rate program that would increase access to E-Rate support for Tribal schools and libraries. 

Information about the consultation is available at https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/events/2023/04/tribal-consultation-proposed-rules-address-barriers-e-rate-access.  

 Tribal leaders may register by sending an email message to [email protected], and are encouraged to bring staff and library, school, and information technology (IT) representatives to the Tribal consultation as observers. Tribal leaders may also designate a proxy(ies) to attend on their behalf.   

The NPRM seeks comment on the following:

  •         Simplifying E-Rate forms and cost-allocation requirements;
  •         Providing an additional competitive bidding exemption for low-cost services and equipment for Tribal applicants;
  •         Increasing the maximum discount rate for Category Two services from 85% to 90% for Tribal applicants;
  •         Allowing Tribal college libraries that serve a dual role by also serving as the Tribal community’s public library to be eligible for E-Rate support;
  •         Providing an extended or separate application filing window for Tribal libraries to align with their Tribal procurement requirements and approval processes;
  •         Increasing the Category Two $25,000 funding floor for Tribal applicants;
  •         Adding a Tribal representative to the Universal Service Administrative Company’s Board of Directors, which administers the program for the FCC; and
  •         Considering other potential reforms to encourage greater participation by Tribal or similarly situated small or rural applicants, particularly if they face barriers that impede equitable access to the E-Rate program.

Tribal governmental entities and other stakeholders are encouraged to review the NPRM and to consider filing comments in CC Docket No. 02-6 in the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/standard

  •         Comments are due Monday, April 24, 2023.
  •         Reply Comments are due Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
  •         Interested parties are also welcome to submit information for this proceeding after the May 23, 2023 deadline, if additional time is needed.

Please email the Office of Native Affairs and Policy with any questions at [email protected].

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