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WASHINGTON — The biggest news out of the nation's capital this week was the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that passed both houses of Congress. It passed the U.S. Senate last Sunday and the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday. It is expecated to be sigend into law by President Joe Biden within days. Read about its impact on Indian Country here.

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.

National Congress of American Indians Without CEO

On Friday, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) announced it has severed ties with its chief executive officer, Dante Desiderio (Sappony Tribe).

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This action comes after Desiderio was placed on leave on June 11, 2022, just prior to NCAI’s mid-year conference.

The country’s largest national American Indian organization released this statement on Friday:

“For almost 80 years, it has been our utmost interest and priority to serve as a leading voice for tribal sovereignty interests and initiatives. To continue to better serve our diverse sovereign Tribal Nations, we have parted ways with Mr. Desiderio. Our organization values accountability and has an ambitious agenda and we’re excited to strengthen our organization, build on our successes and achieve our strategic goals.”

Just before the NCAI Mid-Year Conference on Saturday, June 11, the NCAI Executive Committee placed Mr. Desiderio on temporary administrative leave to fulfill their fiduciary and governance duties and abide by the organization’s policies and procedures. 

The NCAI Executive Committee will continue to rely on Interim Chief Executive Officer Larry Wright, Jr. of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska to administer the important day-to-day work of NCAI.

Interior Department Leaders Attend United Nations Conference to Represent Indian Country

Senior leadership from the Department of the Interior represented the Biden-Harris administration this week in Geneva, Switzerland at the 107th session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). 

Principal Deputy Solicitor Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes and Senior Advisor to the Secretary Heidi Todacheene joined the U.S. delegation to discuss the U.S. implementation of measures to combat racial discrimination and human rights obligations as required under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Convention).

Both representatives delivered formal remarks to the Committee, in which they acknowledged the various efforts the Interior Department and the Biden-Harris administration are undertaking to seek justice and equity for communities enduring racial discrimination in the United States and its territories, disadvantaged communities marginalized by extractive industries, and historically overlooked Indigenous communities. Remarks included a focus on the federal trust responsibility; missing and murdered Indigenous people; investigating the U.S. government’s role in the federal Indian boarding school system; and environmental and natural resource protections for marginalized communities including incorporating Indigenous 

Traditional Ecological Knowledge in decision-making so that all governments can benefit from the lessons of the original stewards of our lands and waters.

Bledsoe Downes and Todacheene joined the U.S. delegation’s presentation from the Committee on a broad range of issues, including racial profiling, racial disparities with respect to criminal justice, education, housing, health care, and the environment; voting rights; treatment of Indigenous people, Black Americans, and members of other marginalized racial and ethnic communities; and immigration policy.

Throughout the convening, the U.S. delegation presented its 2021 report on the implementation of U.S. obligations under the Convention. The report documents the extensive federal and state laws, policies and programs established to ensure equal protection and prevent discrimination, including for health care, housing, education and gender-based violence in Native communities.

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