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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.

Interior invests $300,000 in National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education

On Monday, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland announced that the Department of the Interior is transferring more than $300,000 to the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education, a federally chartered charitable nonprofit corporation established by Congress to further educational opportunities for American Indian students attending schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Education.

The renewed collaborative effort to develop new and sustainable funding will help create curricula from an Indigenous lens and center programming, culture-based models and language learning in BIE schools.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the renewal of the Fund, which had been inactive for decades, at the 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit. This investment will allow the Fund to continue its efforts to undertake projects for the direct benefit of students attending Bureau of Indian Education schools.

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“We have worked closely with the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education since Secretary Haaland announced the renewal of the nonprofit last year, and we’re pleased to see the progress the board has made so far,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “Today’s investment is one step among many that we are taking to support Tribally led education initiatives, including our work on Native language revitalization.”

The Fund’s mission is to promote educational opportunities through increasing the available resources by bringing together revenue from philanthropic, private and public sectors. This investment will measurably improve the academic and life outcomes for students and will support the Bureau of Indian Education’s mission of delivering a culturally relevant, high-quality education, which includes Native language revitalization efforts.

SBA Says Loans to Native-owned Businesses Have Increased by 70% During Biden-Harris Administration

At the White House Tribal Nations Summit, Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman joined a panel moderated by Chief Lynn Malerba, chief of the Mohegan Tribe and the first Native American Treasurer of United States, to discuss the Small Business Administration’s efforts to support the success of Native-owned small businesses through training and technical assistance in the SBA Office of Native American Affairs and how the SBA is streamlining the 8(a) certification process for Tribes, Alaska Native Corporations and Native Hawaiian Organization entities. Administrator Guzman also discussed progress made under the Biden-Harris Administration, including a 70% increase in total loans to Native-owned businesses and updates to the SBA Tribal Consultation Policy, recommitting the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government.

Gila River Indian Community Receives $5.65 Million for Solar Panels 

The Biden-Harris administration on Friday announced $5.65 million from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda for the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona to construct and install solar panels over the Casa Blanca Canal. 

Solar panels placed over canals have the potential to create several significant benefits, including:  

  • Generating renewable energy; 
  • Reducing evaporation losses of the canal; 
  • Increasing efficiency and production of solar panels because of the cooling effect of the water beneath the panels; 
  • Creating land savings for open space and agricultural use; 
  • Reducing facility maintenance by mitigating algae and/or aquatic plant growth; and 
  • Reducing the energy footprint and carbon emissions required to operate and maintain the facility. 

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation will work with the Gila River Indian Community to cover 2,782 linear feet of the Casa Blanca canal with approximately 2,556 solar panels. The solar panels are expected to generate 1.31 megawatts of clean energy, providing 2.26 million kilowatt-hours of annual electricity to the Gila River Indian Community. This pilot will serve as a five-year study period and provide important information for future solar projects over canals and for the Gila River Indian Community as they seek to include solar panels over 18.5 miles of canal.  

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