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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 this past week.

Interior Department Completes Vote on Removal of Derogatory Names as 5 Locations

The Department of the Interior on Thursday, Jan. 12th, announced the Board on Geographic Names (BGN) has voted on the remaining replacement names featuring the word sq___. In September, the Department announced the final vote for nearly 650 features, but completed an additional review for seven locations that are considered unincorporated populated places.

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“Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation’s public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,” Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) said. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to finalize the removal of this harmful word. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”

Thurday’s vote came after a year-long process to remove a term from federal use that has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women. Noting that there are unique concerns with renaming populated locations, the BGN sought additional review and comments from Tribes, local communities and stakeholders before the final vote.

The seven places for additional review included:

  • Sq___ Harbor, Alaska: Removed from consideration. Feature is a historical area that no longer serves as an unincorporated community.
  • Sq___ Hill, Calif.: Name changed to Loybas Hill. Proposed by the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, the name translates to “Young Lady” and honors the past, present and future Native women from and living in the area.
  • Sq___ Valley, Calif.: Name changed to Yokuts Valley, which was proposed during the public comment period. Yokuts translates to “people.”
  • Sq___ Gap, N.D.: Name changed to Homesteaders Gap, which was selected by the community in the populated area as relevant to their local history.
  • Sq___berry, Tenn.: Name changed to Partridgeberry, another common name for the plant for which the community is currently named.
  • Sq___ Mountain, Texas: Name changed to Lynn Creek in honor of Isaac Lynn, who lived on the creek nearby that bears his name.
  • Sq___ Place, Wyo.: Removed from consideration. Feature is a locale now listed as privately owned land.

The list of all new names will be updated on the U.S. Geological Survey website to reflect today’s vote along with a map of locations. While the new names are immediately effective for federal use, the public may continue to propose name changes for any features through the regular BGN process.

Indian Affairs Announces New Regulations of Osage Mineral Estate

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs on Thrusday, Jan. 12th, announced the proposed revisions to the federal regulations that regard the leasing of the Osage Mineral Estate for oil and gas mining. 

These changes would update the leasing codes in order to standardize them across Indian Country and reflect the modern industry standards, advances in technology. They were last updated in 1974. 

The regulations would: 

  • Update bonding requirements to better protect the Osage Nation in cases of operator default which would also reduce the proliferation of abandoned and orphan wells.
  • Update the settlement values of oil and gas for royalty purposes to promote consistency in production valuation, prevent lessees and purchasers from engaging in price manipulation, and ensure that the Osage Nation receives the full value of its oil and gas.
  • Require royalty and production reports to be submitted to the Office of Natural Resources Revenues (ONRR) using ONRR’s eCommerce reporting system and include all other provisions necessary for ONRR to assume the Bureau of Indian Affairs Osage Agency’s royalty management program.
  • Impose detailed requirements for oil and gas measurement to improve production accountability, including through the incorporation by reference of relevant standards.
  • Align assessments and civil penalties under the regulations with those imposed for the same violations throughout the rest of Indian Country
Funding opportunities for Indian Country

The 2023 AmeriCorps State and National Native Nations Grants and Planning Competition 

  • AmeriCorps seeks to prioritize the investment of national service resources into disaster services like COVID-19 response, economic opportunities, education, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Indigenous language, civic and social engagement, healthy futures and veterans and military families. 
  • Opportunities include three-year operating grants which engage AmeriCorps members in time-limited-service commitments and one-year planning grants to develop programs that implement evidence-based solutions to community needs.
  • The application deadline is Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at 5:00 pm.

The 2023 AmeriCorps Seniors Native Nations and Indigenous Elders Senior Demonstration Program

Examples of potential programming (not limited to these examples): promote the preservation and teaching of Native and Indigenous languages and cultural practices; provide social, economic and educational services to tribal nations and Indigenous people both on and off reservation lands; advance equity in areas such as food sovereignty, climate change and conservation and mental health services; provide veterans and military families, caregivers and survivors' quality of life; and create workforce pathways for older adults, including deliberate training, certifications and hiring preferences. No match required.

The application deadline is Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at 5:00 pm.

 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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