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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.

Native Youth Report Released

Late last month, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children (Commission) transmitted its official and final report and recommendations to the President and Congress as directed by bipartisan legislation Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) ushered into law (Public Law 114-244, as amended by Public Law 117-41) in 2016.

Congress created and directed the Commission to conduct an intensive study of federal, tribal, state and local programs and grants available to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children and to make recommendations for how to promote improved outcomes for Native youth.

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Senator Murkowski, Vice Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, issued a statement on the release of the Commission’s report and recommendations.

“I commend the Commission, the many witnesses, tribal leaders, experts, scholars, youth, and elders for examining the unique challenges confronting Native children while highlighting and lifting up the strengths of Native communities,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski. “The Commission conducted scores of hearings and site visits to understand the geographic and cultural diversity across Native communities as they developed recommendations. In particular, I want to thank Commission Chair Gloria O’Neill (Cook Inlet Tribal Council) and Vice-Chair Dr. Tami DeCoteau (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) for their extraordinary work. I look forward to reviewing the Commission’s report and continuing our work toward a future in which all Native children and youth thrive.”

The Commission is named in honor of two advocates for Native children and youth, Alyce Spotted Bear (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) and Walter Soboleff (Tlingit). Alyce Spotted Bear was a chairwoman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, an education leader and a cultural historian. Reverend Dr. Walter Soboleff was a spiritual leader for Alaska Native people, a Tlingit educator, and the first Alaska Native Chairman of the Alaska State Board of Education.

Click here for The Way Forward: Report of the Alyce Spotted Bear & Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children.

ASPR Tribal Access to Federal Resources in a Pandemic Response Webinar

The Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is holding a virtual information session on its approved strategy for "Improving Tribal and Urban Indian Organization (UIO) Access to Federal Resources During a Pandemic Response" on March 6 from 1:00 – 2:00pm EST. During the session, the Federal interagency Tribal Access Workgroup will provide an update on plans to further engage Tribes, Indian Health Service providers, Tribal Health Providers, and urban Indian organizations on the strategy. The Workgroup will also provide information related to technical assistance on requesting Federal assistance to access medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and other Federal stockpiles. 

Tribal leaders and others may participate in the webinar via Zoom or telephone using the following:

  • Zoom registration:
https://www.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJIscOuqrDkrHRFSFR585oiEBmTSsdn-cjw 
  • Telephone number:
    • (551) 285-1373
    • Meeting ID: 161-722-2217
    • Passcode: 181655
COPS Office Grant Announcement – New Funding Opportunity Open

The COPS Office is pleased to announce that the following grant funding opportunity is now open and accepting applications:

The 2024 Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act program is a competitive grant program that provides funding to improve the delivery of and access to mental health and wellness services for law enforcement.  The 2024 LEMHWA program will fund projects that develop knowledge, increase awareness of effective mental health and wellness strategies, increase the skills and abilities of law enforcement, and increase the number of law enforcement agencies and relevant stakeholders using peer support, training, family resources, suicide prevention, and other promising practices for wellness programs.

All local, state, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies that have primary law enforcement authority are eligible to apply.  Up to $9.8 million is available for this program.

Applications are due by April 30, 2024 at 4:59 PM ET.  Please click here for more information on the 2024 Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act program.

Legislation Introduced Improve Conditions Exacerbating Health Inequities Among Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Color

U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.-44) introduced legislation to study and address how social, environmental, and economic conditions exacerbate health inequities in Black, Brown, Indigenous, and people of color. These conditions, known as social determinants of health (SDOH), are the result of institutional racism embedded in our society including in housing, employment, education, health care and more. While it’s often believed that good health is only due to medical care, one estimate found that clinical treatment accounts for only 10 to 20 percent of an individual’s overall health. Meanwhile, around 80 to 90 percent of healthy outcomes are driven by social determinants.

The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act is endorsed by more than 150 organizations across the country. This legislation will:

  • Authorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create a program to improve health outcomes, reduce health inequities, and improve capacity of public health agencies and community organizations to address SDOHs. 
  • Coordinate across CDC to ensure programs consider and incorporate social determinants of health in grants and activities.
  • Award grants to state, local, territorial, and Tribal health agencies to address social determinants of health in target communities.
  • Award grants to nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education to conduct research on best practices for addressing the social determinants of health.
  • Coordinate, support, and align social determinant of health activities at the CDC with other federal agencies.
  • Collect and analyze data related to social determinant of health activities.
  • Authorize $100 million annually for program activities. 

In addition to Senators Smith and Murphy, this legislation is cosponsored by Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in the Senate.

You can read a summary of the bill here and bill text here.

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