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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 last week.

Legislation Introduced to Approve Water Settlements for Several New Mexico Pueblos

Federal lawmakers from New Mexico introduced the Rio San José and Rio Jemez Water Settlements Act that would implement two fund-based water settlements: one between the Pueblos of Jemez and Zia, the United States, the State of New Mexico, and non-Tribal parties; and another between the Pueblos of Acoma and Laguna, the United States, the State of New Mexico, and non-tribal parties. 

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U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) introduced legislation to approve the water rights settlements of the Pueblos of Acoma, Jemez, Laguna, and Zia, as well as participating non-Tribal parties. U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) are original cosponsors.

The Rio San José and Rio Jemez Water Settlements Act would approve the water rights claims of these respective Pueblos and other parties in fund-based settlements for the Rio Jemez and Rio San José basins.

Read the full bill text.

Libby Washburn Appointed to President’s Commission on White House Fellowships

Elizabeth Rodke Washburn (Chickasaw), who is known in Indian Country as “Libby,” has been appointed to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships.

The President’s Commission on White House Fellowships is composed of individuals who reflect the diversity and strength of America while representing a broad range of backgrounds, experiences, and professions. Commissioners are responsible for recommending a group of candidates to the President for selection as White House Fellows, a prestigious program for leadership and public service that provides young Americans experience working at the highest levels of the federal government

Washburn, who until early last year served as Special Assistant to the President for Native Affairs in the Biden-Harris Administration, currently serves as the Director of Ethics and Compliance for the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance in California.

Previously, she has served in senior leadership roles at New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico, focusing on building compliance structures and strengthening ethics requirements and Title IX processes. 

During the Obama-Biden Administration, she was employed at the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

Native Farm Bill Coalition Hosting Fly-ins to Promote Indian Country

During February, the Native Farm Bill Coalition began a series of fly-ins to the nation’s capital for tribal leaders and Native producers to meet directly with members of Congress, their staff, and the Biden Administration to promote the concerns of Indian Country as they relate the 2023 Farm Bill. 

The proposed dates for future 2023 Farm Bill fly-ins are as follows: 

  • March 22-23 – Midwest Tribes (confirmed)
  • April 18-20 – Northwest Tribes (tentative)
  • April 25-27 – Eastern Tribes (tentative)
  • May 9-10 – Indian Country in conjunction with the Native American Food Fair (tentative) 
  • May 16-18 – Southwest Tribes and Navajo Region (tentative)
  • June 20-22 – Alaska Tribes (tentative)

Please note some dates are tentative and are subject to change. 

Tribal Leaders Give Input on Impact Indian Country Economic Development During House Subcommittee 

At the conclusion of her participation at the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs hearing, Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM) asked tribal leaders, who served as panel witnesses, the following question:

“If there was one thing that you could do in Congress that you personally think would have a major impact on economic development in your communities, or across our Tribal nations, what would it be?”

“The Buy Indian Act,” replied Chairman Dustin Klatush of the Confederated Tribes of Chehalis Reservation.

“Dual taxation,” said Chairman Joseph Rupnick of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. “I know that that isn't an area for this committee here too. But…allowing Nations more tools in their toolbox to be able to use the lands as they best see fit.”

“Additional funding for resources for technical assistance and providing education and really looking at the different ways of the bureaucracy such as BIA and just the process in itself to try to streamline those timeframes,” replied Vice Chairwoman Wavalene Saunders of the Tohono O'odham Nation.

“Continuing to promote self-governance and Tribal sovereignty by allowing tribes to manage their lands and resources according to Tribal laws and regulations and Tribal policies to meet Tribal goals and objectives,” said Mr. Jason Robison, Land and Resources Officer of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians.

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