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WASHINGTON — The biggest news out of the nation's capitol for Indian Country this week was the convening of the White House Tribal Nations Summit that was held on Wednesday (Nov. 30) and Thursday (Dec. 1). 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 this past week.

 

New Mexico Congressional Democrats Announce Almost $5 Million for Internet Service to the Pueblo of San Ildefonso

U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) announced $4,925,582 in Infrastructure Law funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program to strengthen high-speed internet services for the Pueblo of San Ildefonso.

“Improved access to reliable high-speed internet means improved access to education, health care, and economic opportunity,” Sen. Heinrich said. “Thanks to the Infrastructure Law championed by New Mexico Congressional Democrats, this major federal investment will help the Pueblo of San Ildefonso deliver high-speed internet to 255 households.”

“Expanding broadband access in every community across our country will continue to be my priority, especially in rural and Tribal communities," Sen. Luján said. "This significant NTIA investment of $4.9 million for San Ildefonso Pueblo will help install necessary upgrades to connect more than 200 households to reliable internet. This federal funding is exactly the support needed to help close the digital divide and increase opportunities on Tribal lands in New Mexico.”

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program was created and funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which was championed by Heinrich, Luján, and Leger Fernández. New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats fought to infuse $2 billion into this program through the Infrastructure Law. Funding is administered through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

FCC Tribal Webinar on the Affordable Connectivity Program Outreach Grant Program

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will host a webinar on Friday, December 9, 2022 to discuss the funding opportunities available to support Tribal outreach through the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program.  The ACP Outreach Grant Program allocates a minimum of $10 million through its Tribal Competitive Grant Program specifically for outreach to Tribal communities to raise awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program and its enhanced Tribal benefit of $75 monthly to help households on Tribal lands afford the cost of having reliable high-quality internet service at home.

To register for the webinar, please email [email protected] with the subject line “Webinar Registration.”  The webinar will be recorded and available online after the event.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a $14.2 billion FCC benefit program that helps qualifying low-income households afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.

Sen. Murkowski Applauds Senate Passage of the STOP Act

The U.S. Senate on Monday unanimously approved H.R.2930, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2021 (STOP Act). The STOP Act now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have led the Senate companion bill since 2016.  

“Safeguarding and repatriating tribal items of cultural and sacred heritage remains at the forefront of protecting Native customs and history. I have worked for several Congresses to advance this legislation with Senator Heinrich so to see it finally come to fruition is significant,” Sen.Murkowski sent. “Passage of the STOP Act will provide the tools to put an end to illegal trafficking of tribal relics and artifacts and restore those items to their rightful owners.”

The STOP Act builds on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a 1990 law that made it illegal to traffic Native American cultural items, funerary objects and objects of patrimony by doubling existing penalties on those who steal or traffic in stolen items of Native American tribal heritage.

Neely Bardwell (descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians), a Michigan State University student who is a staff reporter for Native News Online, contributed to these briefs.

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