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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 recently.

Biden-Harris Administration Invests Nearly $755,000 to Support Tribal Nations’ Engagement in Regional Ocean Partnerships 

On Monday, the Department of Commerce and NOAA announced $754,953 in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to support federally recognized Indian tribes’ participation with regional ocean partnerships as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

These funds will support activities of three federally recognized Indian tribes on the East and West Coasts to manage ocean and coastal resources and data, and build resilience for future challenges. The projects will also further the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities to tackle the climate crisis and support underserved communities.

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“We remain committed to using these unprecedented resources to ensure that tribal community participation in regional ocean partnerships remains a steadfast priority,” National Ocean Service Assistant Administrator Nicole LeBoeuf said. “With the constant goal of being prepared for future challenges, today’s investment is another step forward in our mission to secure a prosperous and sustainable tomorrow.”

The three awardees are:

  • The Makah Indian Tribe, which will receive $288,482 to build on ocean data and mapping support work that was made possible by a previous BIL award, while also focusing on priorities identified by the Makah Tribe and the West Coast Ocean Alliance, including tribal data sovereignty and student engagement.

  • The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians, which will receive $266,473 to strengthen the Tribe’s capacity and capability to build a collaborative partnership with the West Coast Ocean Alliance. The partnership will help advance the Alliance’s goals, which include focusing on the values of Indigenous rights, sustainable aquaculture and Tribal co-management of marine resources.

  • The Penobscot Indian Nation, which will receive $199,998 to enhance cooperation and collaboration among the Penobscot Nation, the Northeast Regional Ocean Council and other tribes. This work will ultimately increase tribal involvement in ocean and coastal related climate change issues in the Northeast.

HHS Observes National Minority Health Month this April

This annual observance builds awareness about the health disparities that persist among racial and ethnic minority and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations and encourages everyone to take action to end these inequities. This year's theme, Be the Source for Better Health: Improving Health Outcomes Through Our Cultures, Communities, and Connections , is about understanding how the unique social determinants of health of minority populations impact their overall health. Resources for public involvement in National Minority Health Month are available here.

ACF New Head Start Eligibility for Children in Tribal and Agricultural Programs

On March 23, President Biden signed into law provisions giving Head Start programs additional flexibility to serve children in Tribal communities and children of farm workers. These provisions ensure Head Start programs can more effectively serve the families for which they were designed. 

Tribes that operate a Head Start program will be able to prioritize enrolling children who are Tribal members or children who have family or household members who are part of a Tribe. The law also makes any child who has at least one family member primarily engaged in agricultural employment eligible for Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs. The new policies are effective immediately. ACF will issue more policy guidance for programs to support swift implementation. Find out more about Head Start eligibility on the ACF at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ohs.

Legislation to Empower Tribal Nations in the Face of Climate Challenges Introduced

U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Mike Simpson (ID-02), and Marie Gluesenkamp-Perez (WA-03) introduced the Tribal Environmental Risk and Resilience Act (TERRA Act) to streamline the process for Tribal Nations to respond to environmental threats, including extreme weather events, natural disasters, and other climate-induced challenges.

“Tribal communities are on the frontline of the climate crisis, facing threats that jeopardize their safety, cultural heritage, and way of life. It is imperative that the federal government provides streamlined, effective support for these communities to adapt and thrive, Rep. Kilmer said. “The TERRA Act embodies a commitment to respecting Tribal sovereignty while enhancing their resilience against the harsh realities of our changing climate.”

The TERRA Act is endorsed by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI), Alaska Native Health Board, DOI Self-Governance Tribes, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Indian Health Board (NIHB), Passamaquoddy Tribe, Pleasant Point Tribal Government, Shoalwater Bay Tribe, and United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereign Protection Fund (USET SPF).

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