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 during the past week.

Congressman Tom Cole Receives the Friend of the Family Award 

Earlier this week, Representative Cole received the Friend of the Family Award. Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), a Chickasaw Nation tribal citizen, is one of the four members of Congress who are Native American.

This award is given by the Faith and Freedom Coalition to lawmakers whose voting record and policy positions align with conservative values and principles. These principles include protecting life, strengthening American families, defending religious freedom and supporting Israel.

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Rep. Cole was grateful to receive this award and expressed his gratitude in a statement: 

“I am honored to receive the Friend of the Family Award for my voting record and efforts to preserve conservative principles and values. As I continue to represent constituents of the Fourth Congressional District of Oklahoma, I remain committed to upholding values that matter to families in our communities.”

Libraries Can Now Access Funding through FCC’s E-Rate Program

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday updated the rules for the E-Rate program to clarify Tribal libraries can access funding. This funding provides affordable internet access in their communities. 

The FCC updated the term “library” in the program rules to make it clear that ribal libraries are eligible to receive this funding. Tribal libraries can now apply for funding and discounts of 20 percent to 90 percent on eligible equipment and services. 

SBA Tribal Consultation Policy of 2022 Has Been Signed by Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman

The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration Cabinet member. Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, on Wednesday signed the Agency’s Tribal Consultation Policy of 2022. 

On Thursday, she provided Native News Online with an exclusive interview. CLICK to read the interview.

This agreement directs the SBA’s coordination with Tribal governments. It also recognizes the Federal Government’s relationship with Tribal Governments and its responsibility to ensure small Native owned businesses can equitably benefit from all resources offered by the American government. 

Federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations were involved in the process of finalizing this policy through consultations. 

In a statement Administrator Guzman said:

​​“The SBA is committed to establishing strong nation-to-nation relationships with every Tribe that seeks to engage with the federal government. We’re focused on making Tribal consultation an important component of our broader Tribal outreach and engagement while creating opportunities for meaningful dialogue.  We know this will advance our efforts to build bridges to entrepreneurs across Indian Country so that we can better connect them to the funding, market opportunities, and networks they need to start and grow. The SBA understands that supporting Native-owned small businesses is vital to our shared economic interests. We look forward to the dialogues that help inform our policy and programs to begin addressing the systemic inequities that continue to plague Indigenous peoples”.

Indian Affairs Approved the HEARTH Act Regulations for 7 Tribal Nations 

The U.S. Dept. of Interior - Indian Affairs announced on Friday that the land leasing regulations that were submitted by seven federally recognized Tribes have been approved through the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership (HEARTH) Act of 2012. 

The tribes who submitted the regulations were: the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana, Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada, Tule River Indian Tribe in California, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in Texas.

This will return the authority to govern and manage the leasing of their Indian trust and restricted fee lands for certain purposes back to the Tribes’. Now they don't have to send their leases through additional review by the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.  

The types of approved leasing regulations announced today are:

  • Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon: Leasing ordinance.
  • Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma: Agriculture leasing act, business leasing act, and residential leasing act.
  • Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Montana: Business, wind and solar leasing ordinance.
  • Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona: Solar and renewable energy leasing ordinance.
  • Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Nevada: Tribal lands leasing ordinance.
  • Tule River Indian Tribe, California: Leasing ordinance.
  • Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Texas: Real property leasing ordinance.

The list of Tribes with approved regulations can be found on the BIA’s HEARTH Act web page.

Tribes may submit HEARTH applications to BIA for agricultural and business leases of tribal trust lands for a primary term of 25 years, and up to two renewal terms of 25 years each. Leases of tribal trust lands for residential, recreational, religious or educational purposes may be eligible for a primary term of up to 75 years

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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Native News Weekly (October 1, 2023): D.C. Briefs

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