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WASHINGTON — In addition to news already covered during the previous week, each Sunday Native News Online provides an overview of activity in Washington, D.C. that impacts Indian Country during the past week.

Funding for Living Languages Grants Now Available

The Indian Affairs Office of Indian Economic Development announced on Friday it is soliciting applications for its Living Languages Grant Program.

The program enables federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribal entities, as listed in 86 FR 7554, to support Tribal programs that document Native languages or build tribal capacity to create or expand language preservation programs. 

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“Preserving Native languages is fundamental to preserving all aspects of Tribal cultures and traditions,” Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said. “The Living Languages Grant Program can help sustain Indigenous knowledge that can only be transmitted through tribal languages. I encourage tribes interested in developing their language preservation programs to apply under this solicitation.” 

Native language preservation has for many years been cited by Indigenous leaders as important to their self-preservation, self-determination and sovereignty. Native preservation and language revitalization is a critical priority because languages go to the heart of a tribe’s unique cultural identities, traditions, spiritual beliefs and self-governance.  

Proposals must be submitted to Grants.gov by March 7, 2022. The solicitation and details regarding the application can be found in the Federal Register here and at Grants.Gov. The office is seeking to fund about 15 to 60 grants ranging in value from approximately $25,000 to $200,000. 

While only federally recognized Tribes or Tribal Organizations may apply for LLGP grants, grantees may select or retain for-profit or non-profit Tribal Organizations to perform a grant’s scope of work for grant funding to support Tribal programs to document Native languages or  build Tribal capacity to create or expand language preservation programs. 

Questions about this solicitation may be addressed to Mr. Dennis Wilson, Division of Economic Development Grants Manager, Office of Indian Economic Development - Indian Affairs, U.S.  Department of the Interior, at 505-917-3235 or [email protected] 

Indigenous Peoples Exchange and Economic Cooperation Act Introduced

New legislation was introduced on Monday by Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who is co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, that would expand trade and investment opportunities for Native American tribes and Indigenous People in the Western Hemisphere overall. 

This act will promote cross-investments and export opportunities between Native American tribes and Indigenous People in throughout the Western Hemisphere. Specifically, this is meant to encourage collaboration in enterprises that include sustainable natural resource management, agricultural development, timber, fish, and other seafood, energy, and art production.

This act is also intended to facilitate the development of` supply chains specifically for products produced by Native American tribes and Indigenous Peoples. 

Indian Health Service Sets Tribal Consultation to Discuss Allocation of New Funds

The Indian Health Service (IHS) sent tribal leaders a letter to inform them of tribal consultation in an effort to begin tribal consultation regarding the allocation of new funds. 

The funds are $210 million from the  American Rescue Plan Act, $3.5 billion from  Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and $2.35 billion that is currently under consideration in Congress in the Build Back Better Act. 

A variety of needs will be addressed through the use of these funds including public health workforce and activities, sanitation facility construction, health care facility construction and maintenance, behavioral health and many other things. 

The Tribal consultation will take place virtually on December 14, 2021, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm EST. This consultation can be joined by clicking here.

Written comments are due December 23, 2021 and can be emailed to [email protected].

Infrastructure Bill’s Investments to Improved Tribal Access to Clean Water Praised

 Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and tribal leaders celebrated funding signed into law as a part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that will improve Tribal access to clean water.

The provisions in the IIJA largely mirror the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act introduced by Bennet and U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

After President Joe Biden signed the IIJA into law last month, the Initiative on Universal Access to Clean Water for Tribal Communities released a report to the administration, federal agencies, and Tribes rapidly deploy IIJA resources to the places they are needed most. 

“Clean water is a fundamental human right, but far too many Tribal communities and Alaska Native villages currently lack access to it,” Bennet said. “Every day, we must continue working to ensure all Tribal communities have access to safe, clean water.” 

"Our country's investment in infrastructure must be a priority including the funding necessary to provide access to basic clean water to Native American tribes” Manuel Heart, Chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of Colorado and of the Ten Tribes Partnership said. "We appreciate Senator Bennet’s leadership on this issue with his Tribal Access to Clean Water Act and his efforts to help secure this funding in the infrastructure bill. This work is an essential element of the federal trust responsibility to sovereign tribal Nations and communities and a step toward a more racially just and equitable nation."

“This is a historic moment.  We are happy to see this large infusion of funding that will provide access to clean water for Tribes; the funding of Indian Health Service’s water and sanitation projects for water storage projects; and for rural water projects.  All of these projects will assist Indian Country.  We thank Senator Bennet for his leadership on these issues.” Southern Ute Indian Tribe Chairman Melvin J. Baker said. 

The IIJA provides $3.5 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) Sanitation Facilities Construction program, which is consistent with the $3.4 billion provided to IHS in the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act to address needs for tribal sanitation facilities and services.

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

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