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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.

Sen. Schatz, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman, Praises President's Signing of Tribal Self Determination Executive Order

 U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, released the following statement on President Biden’s new Executive Order on Reforming Federal Funding and Support for Tribal Nations to Better Embrace Our Trust Responsibilities and Promote the Next Era of Tribal Self Determination.

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“Federal policies that support the inherent right of Tribal nations to exercise their sovereignty and self-determination have been in place for decades. But following the largest investment in Native-serving programs in U.S. history, secured through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, now more than ever, the United States must meet its highest obligations and ensure that funding to support its policies is not just available, but also accessible to Tribal Nations,” said Chairman Schatz. “The President’s Executive Order ushering in the next era of Tribal self-determination will help do just that by answering the call of Tribal leaders to ensure federal resources are as flexible as possible to address their communities’ specific needs.”

The full text of the Executive Order is available here.

BIE Partners with Native Forward Scholars Fund to Provide Professional STEM Development

Native Forward Scholars Fund, in partnership with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), provides funding specifically for training opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Typical awards for professional development will be between $1,200 to $10,000.

This is a great opportunity for TCU faculty, staff, and students who are focused in STEM fields to take advantage of this funding. Individuals who are seeking professional development such as continuing education, conferences, training, and certifications can apply for funding to assist with registration, travel, and other related costs. Educators (K-12) at a BIE funded school, a BIE controlled school, a school on a reservation, or a school with a 20% or more Native American population are encouraged to apply.

APPLY HERE: https://app.smarterselect.com/programs/92225-Native-Forward-Scholars-Fund

Representatives Cole and Peltola Praise Passing of Defense Bill

On Thursday, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a tribal citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, and Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK), the first Alaska Native elected to Congress, applauded the passage of H.R. 2670, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024.

The NDAA is considered one of the most important, “must-pass” bills in each Congress, providing funding and direction for national defense priorities. It typically passes with a wide bipartisan majority, as it did this year with 310 votes in favor.

The final NDAA authorizes $874.2 billion in discretionary spending, including:

  • A 5.2% pay raise for troops;
  • Expanded eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance providing funds for food, housing, etc. for servicemembers;
  • Major investments in military family housing, child development centers, and replacing failing unaccompanied housing (barracks);
  • Improving FMLA (Family and Medical Leave) eligibility for federal employees.

It also includes several high priority items for Alaska’s military bases, including over $100 million for a runway extension at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, funds for additional personnel housing at Fort Wainwright, and for a consolidated munitions complex at Eielson Air Force Base.

“This NDAA provides a well-deserved pay raise for servicemembers at 5.2 percent, the largest pay raise in 20 years, as well as monthly bonuses for junior enlisted members. This is vital to ensuring our men and women in uniform can better keep up with inflation. This authorization also goes above and beyond in supporting military families including by authorizing funding for new construction for housing and childcare centers and providing for programs for military spouses so they can continue to provide for their families without interruption," Cole said.

“Alaska is at the front lines of our nation’s defense, and I’m glad that our hardworking servicemen and women will receive their largest pay raise in decades,”Peltola said. “This is a well-deserved and overdue increase that I was proud to vote for. Alaska’s delegation worked hard to improve this bill throughout the legislative process, and I’m grateful to Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan for listening to the needs of our military leaders and families. The final bill invests in bases across Alaska, protects the reproductive rights of our service members and their families, and avoids divisive culture-war issues that have no place in our nation’s most important security legislation. This collaboration is how Congress is supposed to work and I’m proud to support the finished bill.”

FY24 NDAA text can be found here.

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