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.

$500 Million Investment is Available for Tribal School Districts

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs law is making $500 million available for tribal schools. Tribal schools can now apply for this funding to use for clean school buses. Eligible applicants for the program include public school districts (including charter schools), eligible contractors that sell clean school buses to school bus owners, nonprofit school transportation associations, and tribes, tribal organizations, and tribally controlled schools responsible for the purchase of school buses. 

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This $500 million in investments is the first round of funding a part of the $5 billion that was allocated in the bipartisan infrastructure law to be used for low and zero-emission school buses over the next five years. 

This funding will allow tribal schools to purchase new, clean, low or zero-emission buses to replace outdated diesel-powered buses. Anyone who believes they might be eligible for this funding can apply here.

Tribal Leaders Invited to Participate in a Virtual Tribal Consultation Session

The  U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, and Agricultures are partnering with the White House to put on a virtual consultation session with Tribal leaders from across America. The session will take place June 28, 2022 from 1:30-3:30 Eastern Time. 

If you are interested in participating in this session, you can register for the zoom link here. Written feedback and recommendations can also be sent to [email protected].  

The goal is to seek input from tribal leaders on strategies to successfully develop and implement a national strategy on hunger, nutrition, and health. This is part of the Biden-Harris Administration initiative to end hunger by 2030 and increase overall health in order to decrease chronic diseases. 

Part of this effort also includes a White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health which is scheduled for September. At that time, the Biden-Harris Administration will announce a Plan.  

Buy-Back Program Nearing a Close

Landowners who received buy-back offers interested in selling have until June 16 to respond to their offers. In order to respond, landowners who received offers must return the accepted offers in the pre-paid postage envelopes provided. 

So far, the Department of the Interior has sent over $2.8 million in purchase offers to over 3,000 landowners with fractional interests at the Lower Brule Reservation, South Dakota. 

This program implements the consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement. The time frame to buy consolidated fractional interests in trust or restricted land ends November 2022. 

All interests consolidated through the Program are immediately restored to Tribal trust ownership. As of May 18, approximately $13 million remains in the land consolidation fund. The Program is collaborating with Tribes to prioritize the use of the remaining funds. 

Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 or [email protected] with questions about their land and/or purchase offers, or to request a copy of an appraisal report for any appraised tract in which they have an owner interest. Landowners can also contact their local Bureau of Trust Funds Administration office with additional questions.

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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You’re reading the first draft of history. 

November is  Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:

  • Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
  • Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.  
  • Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country.  We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.   

We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.

Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

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