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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 during the past week.


Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Announces First-Ever Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) announced the launch of the first-ever Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC). 

The STAC will ensure Tribal leaders have direct and consistent contact and communication with the current and future Interior Depart. officials to facilitate robust discussions on intergovernmental responsibilities, exchange views, share information and provide advice and recommendations regarding Departmental programs and funding that impact Tribal Nations to advance the federal trust responsibility. 

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“Tribes deserve a seat at the decision-making table before policies are made that impact their communities. Tribal members who are joining the first-ever Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee will be integral to ensuring Tribal leaders can engage at the highest levels of the Department on the issues that matter most to their people,” said Secretary Haaland. “I look forward to continued engagement and ensuring that the Department honors and strengthens our nation-to-nation relationships with Tribes.” 

The STAC is composed of a primary Tribal representative from each of the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs Regions (BIA), and one alternate member from each region. The members are appointed on a staggered term for up to two years. The Secretary, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, will designate one member of the STAC to serve as chairperson. 

The members of the STAC, listed by BIA Region, are below:  

Alaska Region 

  • Primary member: Robert Keith; President, Native Village of Elim 
  • Alternate member: Gayla Hoseth; Second Tribal Chief for the Curyung Tribal Council 

Eastern Region 

  • Primary member: Kelly Dennis; Councilwoman, Shinnecock Indian Nation 
  • Alternate member: Stephanie Bryan; Tribal Chair, Poarch Creek Indians 

Eastern Oklahoma Region 

  • Primary member: Gary Batton; Chief, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma 
  • Alternate member: Del Beaver; Second Chief, Muscogee (Creek) Nation 

Great Plains Region 

  • Primary member: Dionne Crawford; Councilwoman, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate for the Lake Traverse District 
  • Alternate member: Cora White Horse; Councilwoman, Oglala Sioux Tribe 

Midwest Region 

  • Primary member: Whitney Gravelle; President, Bay Mills Indian Community 
  • Alternate member: Michelle Beaudin; Councilwoman, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin 

Navajo Region  

  • Primary member: Jonathan Nez; President, Navajo Nation 
  • Alternate member: Daniel Tso; Council Delegate, Navajo Nation 

Northwest Region 

  • Primary member: Kat Brigham; Chair of the Board of Trustees, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation 
  • Alternate member: Timothy Greene; Chairman, Makah Tribe 

Pacific Region 

  • Primary member: Erica Pinto; Chairwoman, Jamul Indian Village of California 
  • Alternate member: Reid Milanovich; Chairman, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians 

Rocky Mountain Region 

  • Primary member: Jody LaMere; Councilwoman, Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation 
  • Alternate member: Jordan Dresser; Chairman, Northern Arapaho Business Council 

Southern Plains Region 

  • Primary member: Walter Echo-Hawk; Chairman, Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma 
  • Alternate member: Reggie Wassana; Governor, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma 

Southwest Region 

  • Primary member: Mark Mitchell; APCG Chairman, Pueblo of Tesuque 
  • Alternate member: Christopher Moquino; Governor, Pueblo de San Ildefonso 

Western Region 

  • Primary member: Amber Torres; Chairman, Walker River Paiute Tribe 
  • Alternate member: Terry Rambler; Chairman, San Carlos Apache Tribe 
Two Bills introduced to Advance Tribal Management of Public Lands

On Thursday, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced two bills, one House bill and one Senate bill. The Advancing Tribal Parity on Public Lands Act, and the Tribal Cultural Areas Protection Act are the titles of each bill. So far these bills have the support of a dozen Tribal nations, several Tribal organizations. This includes the National Congress of American Indians and the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers.

Currently, some public land management laws can stand in the way of Native communities from maintaining their rights to hunt and gather, pray, conduct ceremonies, adn visit burial sites. In some cases, sacred sites that rest on public lands may still be sold to private developers who could destroy the site. 

From the Rep. Grijalva press release:

The Advancing Tribal Parity on Public Land Act will: 

  • Prohibit the sale of public land containing a Tribal cultural site, where a Tribal nation retains treaty or other reserved rights, or that contains a former reservation.
  • Authorize Tribal governments to acquire public lands for public purposes.
  • Increase Tribal consultation in public land use planning.
  • Requires the consideration of the presence of cultural sites and fulfillment of treaty obligations in federal land acquisition decisions.
  • Require existing public land advisory boards to include at least one Tribal representative.

The Tribal Cultural Areas Protection Act will:

  • Establish a national Tribal Cultural Areas System to designate public lands with culturally significant sites. Tribal cultural areas would be managed to preserve their cultural values while allowing for traditional Tribal cultural use. 
  • Direct public land management agencies to identify potential Tribal cultural areas.
  • Provide authority to Tribal nations in the management of Tribal cultural areas.
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Holds “Cannabis in Indian Country” Listening Session 

The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Friday held the virtual listening session seeking comments from Tribal leaders and others on Tribal cannabis commerce and related equities.

Written comments are still being accepted until July 8, 2022 and can be submitted here.

These are the following questions discussed at the session, and written comments are encouraged to address all or some of the following: 

1.    Is your Tribe currently participating in the cannabis industry?  If so, please provide a brief description of your operation(s). 

2.    For Tribes not currently participating in the cannabis industry, what are your main concerns about industry participation?

a.    What legislative solutions would you propose to address your concerns?

b.    What administrative solutions would you propose to address your concerns?   

3.    For Tribes currently participating in the cannabis industry, what are the main issues you encounter as a Tribal operator?

a.    What legislative solutions would you propose to address your concerns?

b.    What administrative solutions would you propose to address your concerns?

4.    If cannabis is decriminalized at the federal level, what Tribal-Federal-State framework would you propose to ensure Tribal interests are safeguarded? 

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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