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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 this past week..

Leaders in Tribal Fish and Wildlife Management Visit D.C.

Leaders in tribal fish and wildlife management visited D.C. to urge Congress to pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). This act would invest in tribal conservation and protect wildlife if passed. 

This bill would provide tribes with $97.5 million to support tribal fish and wildlife conservation, and $1.3 billion to states and territories each year for on-the-ground conservation in order to protect and preserve over 12,000 species in the U.S. that have been deemed of “greatest conservation need”. 

“Inequities in funding for tribal fish and wildlife programs are probably one of the most obvious issues in conservation but least talked about,” Executive Director Julie Thorstenson, PhD., Native American Fish & Wildlife Society stated.

According to Modoc Nation Resource and Development Director Ken Sandusky, the Modoc Nation has invested more than a million dollars in the last two years on their Homelands Initiative, nearly all of it spent within their northern California and southern Oregon traditional homelands.

Dollars spent in Indian Country stay in Indian Country, often serving the most underserved communities. RAWA is an investment in Tribal conservation, communities, and economies

Final Guidance on How to Apply for Grant Funding under Infrastructure Law Released

The Department of the Interior has announced the final guidance on how tribes can apply for the first $50 million in grant funding available under President Biden’s Infrastructure Law. This specific grant funding can be used to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells. 

Funding can be used to plug, remediate, or claim orphaned wells on Tribal land, restore soil and habitat in the effected area, decommission or remove associated infrastructure, identify and characterize additional undocumented wells. 

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A total of $4.7 billion has been allocated in this Law to cleaning up orphaned wells across the country. $150 million of it is specifically earmarked for Tribal communities over five years. 

Currently, there are several thousand orphaned wells on tribal lands that can jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating the environment around them. 

First Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names to Be Held 

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced that the Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names will hold its first inaugural public meeting. It will be held on December 7 and 8 from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm - EST. 

This committee will be identifying federal land unit names and geographic feature names and discuss how these could be considered derogatory and brainstorm recommendations for potential replacement names. 

There are seventeen members of the committee that are representing Tribes, Tribal organization, Native Hawaiian organizations, and members of the public who have expertise in fields pertaining to the matters of the committee. Howard Dale Valndra and Dr. Rachel Pereira will serve as chair and vice chair. 

The public is open to attend the virtual meeting, information can be found here.

Neely Bardwell (descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians), a Michigan State University student who is a staff reporter for Native News Online, contributed to these briefs. 

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