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WASHINGTON — In addition to news already covered during the previous week, each Sunday Native News Online provides an overview of activity in Washington, D.C. that impacts Indian Country during the past week.

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Native CDFIs Ask to Consult with Treasury on Plan to Distribute ‘Transformational’ $1.75B Minority Fund

On Monday, Tribal Business News, the sister publication of Native News Online, reported the Native CDFI Network wants to engage with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to discuss how the agency plans to deploy a potentially “transformational” $1.75 billion fund targeted at minority lending institutions.

The goal, according to NCN Executive Director Jackson Brossy: “Making sure that Native CDFIs are at the table and not on the menu.”

Seven Tribes Sign Preservation Agreements with the National Park Service

The National Parks Service (NPS) announced on Wednesday seven new Tribal Historic Preservation agreements were signed in during 2021 in seven different states.

The seven tribes are:

  • Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Washington
  • Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Texas 
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe of the Southern Ute Reservation, Colorado 
  • Resighini Rancheria, California
  • Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, Utah 
  • Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico  
  • Moapa Band of Paiute Indians of the Moapa River Indian Reservation, Nevada  

The NPS has the responsibility under the National Historic Preservation Act to administer the Tribal Historic Preservation Program. The program assists Indian tribes in strengthening their historic preservation programs managed through Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO) on tribal lands. Once signed, THPO agreements transfer certain historic preservation responsibilities to Tribes that would otherwise be the responsibility of the state.

Feedback Requested by the FCC on the transition from Emergency Broadband Benefit to Affordable Connectivity Program

Recently, Congress passed the Affordable Connectivity Program. This long-term $14 billion program is meant to replace the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB). 

The changes that will be happening under this new program are:

  • The maximum monthly benefit will change from $50/month to $30/month for households that are not on qualifying tribal lands. Benefits for households on qualifying Tribal lands remain unchanged. 
  • New ways to qualify for the program include receiving Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits or having an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • Households that qualified for the EBB due to loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, or by meeting the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s COVID-19 program will need to requalify for the new program.

Eligible households can still apply, and households currently enrolled in the EBB program as of 12/31/21 will continue to receive their current monthly benefit during a 60-day transition period.

Comments on the items listed in the  Public Notice are due by December 8. Reply comments are due by December 28. 

Bipartisan Legislation to Deliver More Than $5 Million Owed to the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley Passes the Senate Indian Affairs Committee 

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D-NV) legislation that makes vital amendments to the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation Water Rights Settlement Act has passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. 

This bill would allow the Tribes to collect over $5 million in interest that they are owed from their 2009 water rights settlement. 

In a statement, Senator Cortez-Masto emphasizes the importance of the corrective changes in this bill:

“The federal government currently owes the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley Indian Reservation millions of dollars due to a technical oversight, and I’m working hard to get that money into the community where it belongs,” Senator Cortez Masto said. “The U.S. government has an important trust relationship with Tribal nations, and I’m committed to ensuring that Congress does its part to get Native communities in Nevada what they’re owed.”

Minority Business Development Agency Announces 13 American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Projects

The Minority Business Community Development Agency announced $3.9 million in federal funding has been awarded to 13 grant recipients.

The projects who received funding aim to address one or more of three strategic initiatives: innovation and entrepreneurship, strategic planning, and/or transformative projects. Funding these projects is in efforts to support Tribal and Native business growth.

Intertribal Agriculture Council Chosen to Provide Technical Assistance to Native American Farmers and Ranchers

On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) will provide approximately $75 million in American Rescue Plan funding to 20 organizations.

One of the organizations selected to be a part of this program is the Intertribal Agriculture Council. They will work with Native American farmers, ranchers, and landowners across the country to provide training and technical assistance. 

Among the technical assistance to be provided include business and tax planning, financial assistance planning, market planning, farmer advocacy, and business curriculum development. 

Office of Minority Health Recruiting Delegates for Tribal Advisory Committee

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) is recruiting primary and alternate delegates for the Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity Tribal Advisory Committee (CIIHE TAC), in alignment with the 12 geographic areas served by the Indian Health Service. Information about CIIHE TAC membership can be found here: American Indian/Alaska Native - The Office of Minority Health (hhs.gov), including eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and nomination procedures. OMH has extended the deadline date for submission for nominations published in the Federal Register (86 FR 64951) from October 29to January 7, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. – EST.

If you have questions about the nomination process for delegates, please contact Violet Woo, Designated Federal Official, at [email protected]. For all other questions related to Tribal Affairs, please contact CAPT Damion Killsback, OMH Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs, at [email protected].

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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