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Every week, Native News Online brings you the latest Indian Country news and moves from Washington, D.C.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Enrollment Now Open

Eligible households now are able to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit. This temporary benefit will provide eligible households with a discount of up to $50 a month on the cost of broadband service and associated equipment rentals, or up to $75 a month for eligible households on qualifying Tribal lands. 

All eligible households may also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 toward the cost of a laptop, desktop or tablet computer purchased from a participating broadband provider, subject to a modest copay requirement.  The EBB Program will conclude when the $3.2 billion fund is expended or six months after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, whichever occurs first.

Households can apply in three ways: 

  • Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.
  • Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
  • Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with proof of eligibility to Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742

A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:

Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;

Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;

Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;

  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program

In addition, households on qualifying Tribal lands are eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit if a member participates in one or more Tribal Programs for Residents of Qualifying Tribal Lands:

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Tribal Head Start (only households meeting the relevant income qualifying standard)
  • Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
  • Food Distribution Program on Tribal Reservations

Rep. Tom Cole Introduces Legislation in Response to McGirt vs. Oklahoma

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives related to last summer’s ruling on McGirt vs. Oklahoma by the Supreme Court of the United States. If enacted, the legislation would authorize the Chickasaw Nation, Cherokee Nation and the State of Oklahoma to find agreement and compact without federal government involvement. It would also address the immediate issues facing law enforcement as a result of the ruling.

“Consistent with the diligent work done and progress made with state and tribal partners, this legislation does not mandate how Oklahoma, the Chickasaw Nation and the Cherokee Nation should come to agreement. Instead, the legislation would give them an avenue to decide independently, rightly ensuring that any decision directly affecting Oklahoma or these tribes is made at the state and local level,” said Cole, who is a tribal citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, based in Ada, Okla. 

“Over the past several months, I have had many serious and productive conversations with law enforcement officers across the Fourth District of Oklahoma. This legislation would provide an immediate solution to the urgent issues facing law enforcement, giving them clarity to enforce the law, keep dangerous criminals behind bars and ensure justice is served.”

Bill text is available here

FCC Grants Additional Rural Tribal Spectrum Licenses to 40 Native Communities

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has granted an additional 40 spectrum licenses in the 2.5 GHz band to help connect rural Tribal communities. This valuable mid-band spectrum can be used for 5G and other advanced wireless services.

“Wireless spectrum in the hands of the unserved and underserved is a powerful tool,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “This is especially true for Tribes, which should have the opportunity to offer their communities the broadband access that is so critical for participation in the digital age.  I am committed to continuing our efforts to make that happen, consistent with our federal trust relationship.”

To date, the agency has granted 259 licenses in the 2.5 GHz band to help address rural Tribal connectivity needs. These licenses provide for exclusive use of up to 117.5 megahertz of 2.5 GHz band spectrum that Tribes can use to connect their rural communities to wireless broadband and other advanced services. FCC staff continues to review and process additional applications filed in the Rural Tribal Priority Window.  

For more information regarding these licenses and other information on the Rural Tribal Window please see www.fcc.gov/rural-tribal-window-updates.

Rep. Sharice Davids Statement on Senate Markup of the For the People Act

Rep. Sharice Davids on Thursday offered the following statement on the Senate Rules Committee markup of S.1., the For the People Act:

“The House passed the For the People Act months ago. In the time since, several states—including Kansas—have passed bills that restrict access to the ballot box, particularly for communities of color. Dark money has continued to flow into our system unrestricted and unchecked. As these reforms sit in the Senate, the urgent need to pass them has grown significantly.

The Senate Rules Committee markup yesterday was just the first step. I am disappointed that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans resorted to misinformation and obstruction, especially because their actions do not reflect the will of their constituents. People don’t want billionaires to buy their elections or partisan processes to erase their voice—regardless of who they voted for.

Today, I joined 39 of my colleagues in the House in urging the Senate to act on this legislation, especially now that the committee has completed its work. I ran on the promise to make Washington work for Kansas, and I intend to make good on that promise by supporting the passage of these pro-democracy, anti-corruption measures.”

Call for Presenters – Tribal DHS Homeland Security Virtual Summit 2021

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking presenters for the August 9-13 Tribal-DHS homeland security virtual summit 2021.

Those attending will gather for approximately three hours each day (starting at 2:00 ET), and the agenda will include regional, topical, and sector breakout sessions to share best practices and experiences across the homeland security arena. The focus is to have sessions of interest by tribes and joint presentations of information.

DHS is seeking presenters and panelists to participate in virtual discussions on homeland security topics of interest to tribes and tribal organizations. Participants from DHS Agencies and Components will take part in providing useful information to Tribal Nations, tribal organizations, and others with tribal homeland security interests.

DHS is made up of major components and offices including the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, and the Office of Science and Technology.

Presenters from across the tribal homeland security realm are being asked to apply. Presenters can be tribal staff, tribal organizations, tribal volunteer organizations with experiences in social services, tribal public health, tribal emergency services, tribal cultural resources, tribal education services, tribal fire, tribal law, tribal gaming security, tribal training providers, or tribal grants administration.

If you are interested in presenting: Please spend a few minutes and share your interests in the short response here.

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