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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.

27 Million Acres of Federal Land to be Open for Selection by Alaska Native Vietnam-era Veterans

On Thursday, Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director, Tracy Stone-Manning, announced that approximately 27 million acres of federal land will be open for selection by eligible Alaska Native veterans. 

Through The Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Allotment Program, the BLM can provide eligible individuals the opportunity to select an allotment of up to 160 acres of federal land in Alaska. Currently, there are 1.2 million acres of available lands which are open to selection. 

This selection process is the third time that federally managed land has been offered to Alaska Native Vietnam veterans. Lands will be available for selection through December 29, 2025. For more information on the program and how to apply, please visit the BLM program page.

Secretary Haaland Tours Alaska’s National Parks to Commemorate Earth Week

This past week in celebration of National Park Week, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) spent her time visiting Alaska’s national parks, public lands, and their outdoor recreation economy. 

On Thursday, Haaland visited Kenai Fjords National Park where she heard about the impact of the worsening climate crisis on the landscape. On Friday-Earth Day-Haaland met with local, elected and Alaska Native leaders and community members from the North Slope Borough in Utqiagvik. 

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Nearly $100 million in funding is available this year for Alaska’s national parks, public lands and other critical services. Alaska is also set to receive nearly $40 million in funding for transportation improvements. 

The National Park Service is also using $7.4 million for repair adn rehabilitation projects in Alaska. More information about Fiscal Year 2022 LWCF Funding Allocations can be found here

House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the U.S. to Hold Legislative Hearing

The Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States will hold a legislative hearing on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 on the following bills:

  •       H.R. 437 (Young), To amend the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to exclude certain payments to Alaska Native elders for determining eligibility for certain programs, and for other purposes.
  •       H.R. 6063 (McCollum), To provide for the equitable settlement of certain Indian land disputes regarding land in Illinois, and for other purposes. 
  •       Discussion Draft ANS - H.R. 6181 (Gallego), To reaffirm that certain land has been taken into trust for the benefit of the Samish Indian Nation, and for other purposes. Samish Indian Nation Land Reaffirmation Act.
  •       S. 314 (Merkley), To repeal the Klamath Tribe Judgment Fund Act. Klamath Tribe Judgment Fund Repeal Act.
  •       S. 559 (Merkley), To amend the Grand Ronde Reservation Act, and for other purposes. 
  •       S. 789 (Rounds), To repeal certain obsolete laws relating to Indians. Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes Act.

Witnesses

  •       The Honorable Douglas G. Lankford (H.R. 6063), Chief, The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma
  •       The Honorable Tom Wooten (H.R. 6181), Chairman, Samish Indian Nation
  •       The Honorable Donald Gentry (S. 314), Chairman, The Klamath Tribes
  •       The Honorable Cheryle A. Kennedy (S. 559), Chairwoman, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
  •       The Honorable Tamara St. John (S. 789), South Dakota State Representative, 1st District
  •       The Honorable Sheri Buretta (H.R. 437), Chairman of the Board, Chugach Alaska Corporation, (Minority Witness)
  •       The Honorable Teri Gobin (H.R. 6181), Chairwoman, Tulalip Tribes, (Minority Witness)

When: 1:00 p.m. Eastern time

Watch Live: https://youtu.be/nwDueRDhi5w

Interior Department Announces Additional Native American Appointees

The Department of the Interior on Friday announced new Biden-Harris administration appointees who will join the Department’s leadership team to create jobs in the clean energy economy, steward America’s public lands and waters, and honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes.

“I am thrilled to welcome a new group of talented and accomplished individuals to the Interior leadership team. As Interior works across America to implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other critical investments that will benefit communities, ecosystems and wildlife, these leaders will offer tremendous support, perspectives and vision,” said Chief of Staff Rachael Taylor.

Interior’s political team proudly reflects the diversity of America, with more than 50 percent identifying as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or people of color) and more than 60 percent as women or nonbinary.

Here are two Native Americans appointed:

  • Tracy Goodluck, Senior Advisor, Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs
  • Joel West Williams, Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs

Tracy Goodluck, Senior Advisor, Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs

Tracy Canard Goodluck is a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and is also Mvskoke Creek. She most recently completed details at the White House’s Domestic Policy Council and Council on Native American Affairs. Previously, Tracy served as deputy director of the Interior Department’s Indian Water Rights Office. She is a former classroom teacher, school administrator and co-founder of the Native American Community Academy. Tracy holds a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Washington, and a Juris Doctorate and Certificate in Indian Law from the University of New Mexico.

Joel West Williams, Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs

Joel West Williams is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Naropa University, a Juris Doctorate from Widener University Delaware Law School, and a Master of Laws in environmental law from Vermont Law School. Most recently, he was an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). Prior to that, Joel was assistant counsel with the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of General Counsel and senior legislative officer with the Cherokee Nation. He is a former president of the National Native American Bar Association and has taught at Vermont Law School and NYU School of Law.

Border Bipartisan Shadow Wolves Bill Signed into Law

Arizona senior Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D), chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee, announced that her bipartisan Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act was signed into law. 

Sinema’s bipartisan law classifies the Tohono O’odham Shadow Wolves unit as special agents, allowing them to better patrol, investigate, interdict, and secure the border.

“Our bipartisan law entrusting Tohono O’odham Nation’s Shadow Wolves with more authority to investigate and interdict illegal border activity will keep Arizona families safe and secure,” said Sinema, Chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee.

Shadow Wolves are members of the Tohono O’odham Nation who work for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Shadow Wolves patrol the 76-mile stretch of land the Nation shares with Mexico and are known for their ability to track drug smugglers as they attempt to smuggle illegal commodities across the border. 

Sinema’s bill reclassifies Shadow Wolves from tactical officers to special agents, allowing the unit to better investigate and track cross-border criminal activity. The law also expands the Shadow Wolves program to other parts of the border.

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.

More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (September 25, 2022): D.C. Briefs
Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola Hits the Ground Running: Her First Bill Introduced Clears Committee Two Days Later
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September 20 is National Voter Registration Day: Native Organizations Team Up to Increase Native Youth Voter Engagement
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