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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 recently.

Legislation Introduced to Assist Tribal Communities Combat Wildfires

U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) is introducing the Slip-On Tanks for Tribes Act, legislation to make sure that Tribes in Nevada have the resources they need to fight wildfires, as the West continues to face the devasting impacts of climate change. The U.S. Department of the Interior recently launched a grant program to help rural communities better respond to wildfires by providing funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to convert vehicles into flexible, early-response fire engines. Cortez Masto’s bill would ensure that Tribes are eligible for this funding. Senator Cortez Masto has led efforts to support Nevada firefighters and combat the wildfire crisis in the West, and she’s secured billions in funding to support wildfire risk reduction.

“Wildfires are becoming increasingly dangerous, and we must ensure rural Tribal communities have access to the resources they need to combat them,” Sen. Cortez Masto said. “My bill help ensure that tribes in Nevada can access funding to purchase slip-on tanks – a vital piece of firefighting equipment that will help keep communities safe.”

By expanding eligibility to the pilot program, tribal communities with a population of 25,000 or fewer will be able to apply for funding to help to purchase slip-on tanker units to quickly convert trucks and other vehicles into early-response fire engines.

Assistant Secretary Newland to Travel to Pine Ridge Indina Reservation at Oglala Dam Rehabilitation Project Groundbreaking

On March 12, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland will travel to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where he will join Tribal leaders to commemorate the groundbreaking of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded Oglala Dam rehabilitation project. 

The Interior Department has made a series of funding announcements for the Oglala Dam from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is helping make crucial investments to protect downstream communities, improve dam safety, and restore an important local water supply for the Pine Ridge community. 

The project represents another milestone from the President’s Investing in America agenda – a key pillar of Bidenomics – which is deploying record investments to provide affordable high-speed internet, safer roads and bridges, modern wastewater and sanitations systems, clean drinking water, reliable and affordable electricity, good paying jobs and economic development in every Tribal community. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $13 billion directly to Tribes throughout the United States, including $250 million over five years to address irrigation, power systems, dam safety and water sanitation.   

WHAT: Groundbreaking event to commemorate Oglala Dam rehabilitation project 

WHEN: March 12, 2023, at 11:00 AM MT   

WHERE: Oglala, South Dakota  

FCC Launches Enhanced Competition Incentive Program

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released a Public Notice, DA 24-141, announcing that it will begin accepting assignment and lease applications to participate in the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program (ECIP).  ECIP provides incentives for wireless licensees to make underutilized spectrum available to small carriers, tribal nations, and entities serving rural areas.  This new program encourages licensees to partition, disaggregate, or lease spectrum to better match available spectrum resources with entities that seek to provide needed services to under-connected communities.

Tribal nations interested in ECIP can contact Stephanie Asous, Attorney Advisor of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Mobility Division at [email protected], or the FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy at [email protected].

COPS Office Grant Announcement – New Funding Opportunity Open Now

Tribal Resources Grant Program (TRGP) – Technical Assistance funds are used to support tribal law enforcement agencies through training and technical assistance efforts around community policing topics.  The focus of 2024 TRGP-TA is the Alaska Tribal Law Enforcement Technical Assistance Project solicitation, which will support Alaska Tribes with law enforcement-specific needs, including starting law enforcement agencies, developing policies and procedures, addressing jurisdictional challenges, and other needs unique to Alaska Tribes and tribal law enforcement.  The TRGP-TA solicitation is open to all public governmental agencies, federally recognized Indian tribes, for-profit (commercial) and nonprofit institutions, institutions of higher education, community groups, and faith-based organizations.  Approximately $300,000 is available for this program.

Applications are due by May 8, 2024 at 4:59 PM ET.  Please click here for more information on the 2024 TRGP-TA program.

Save the Date – HHS Annual Tribal Budget Consultation on April 9-10, 2024

HHS invites Tribal leaders to consult on national health and human services funding priorities for the Department's FY 2026 budget request. The annual consultation will take place in-person on April 9-10 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington, DC. The event will consist of a Tribal Resource Session, one-on-one Tribal meetings with HHS Divisions, a discussion on Executive Order 14112 ( Reforming Federal Funding and Support for Tribal Nations to Better Embrace Our Trust Responsibilities and Promote the Next Era of Tribal Self-Determination), and a full-day consultation on funding recommendations. Written comments will be accepted through April 12 at 5:00pm EST and may be delivered to [email protected] with the subject line "HHS Annual Tribal Budget Consultation."

As in previous years, HHS will host two planning sessions to work with Tribes to prepare for the consultation. These will take place on March 6 and March 20 from 3:00 to 3:30pm EST. Separate registrations for the April consultation and the planning sessions is required. Please see this Dear Tribal Leader Letter for more details.

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