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WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior released the long-awaited Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report. On Thursday, the House Natural Resource Committee's Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States hosted a hearing for H.R. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission Bill on Indian Boarding School Policies Act. 

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.

New Procedures for Tribal Governments to Submit Broadband Availability Data Released by FCC

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice providing guidance on the procedures that must be followed in order to submit verified broadband availability data through the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection (BDC) system. 

The BDC is the FCC’s new data-collection system that will gather more detailed broadband availability data on a nationwide basis. This system will also allow the Commission to make this information publicly available. 

The BDC filling window will open June 30, 2022 and close on September 1, 2022. Tribal governments will be able to provide data to challenge provider-submitted data after the FCC has published the initial BDC maps. Additional details and technical-assistance will be available to Tribes.

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There is a two-step process the Commission will use to authenticate entities. Tribal governments will be required to obtain FRNs through CORES and to select the “Tribal Government Agency” entity type as well. By verifying this, Tribal governments will be able to submit verified availability data. After this, Tribes will have to file a letter with teh FCC authenticating the Tribal government agency primarily responsible for mapping or tracking broadband availability in WC Docket Nos. 19-195 and 11-10 using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) found here. The letter must be from a elected Tribal leader of the government. 

Any questions can be submitted using their online form that can be found here

Lawmakers Call for Reform on the Anniversary of 150-year Old Mining Law

Tuesday, May 10th, was the anniversary of President Ulysses S. Grant signing the General Mining Act of 1872. Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) held a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol calling for modernization of this antiquated mining law. 

Grijalva and Heinrich both introduced their House and Senate mining reform bills, both titled the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act on April 26th. During the press conference, discussion of their legislation and the importance of reforming the nation’s 150-year-old mining law was the focus. The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a legislative hearing on Chair Grijalva’s bill on Thursday, May 12.

More information about Heinrich’s Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act is available here and a fact sheet on the bill is available here. More information about Grijalva’s Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act is available here and a fact sheet on the bill is available here.

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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These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

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