WASHINGTON — Here is this week's roundup of news and policy updates from Washington, D.C. that affect Indian Country. 

Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola’s First Bill Passes U.S. House

On Thursday, Rep.Mary Sattler Peltola’s first bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives 375-49. The Food Security for all Veterans Act calls for the creation of an Office of Food Security within the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

“The Food Security for all Veterans Act will help ensure that we do all we can to prevent veterans from experiencing food insecurity,” Rep. Peltola (D-AK), the first Alaska Native to ever be elected to Congress, said. “This is a topic of vital importance to Alaska where veterans comprise about 10 percent of the population.” 

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Peltola’s bill soared through the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and arrived on the House floor for a final vote just over a week after it was introduced. 

“Addressing veterans’ hunger is critical to this committee’s suicide prevention efforts,” said Representative Mark Takano, chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I thank our newest member from Alaska, Congresswoman Peltola, for taking up this important issue and prioritizing veterans.”

“I’m incredibly grateful for the support of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, for their support of this important bill,” said Peltola. “I know this will not solve the problem entirely, but I believe it will help in Alaska and throughout the country.”

Federal Partners to Hold First-Ever Tribal Consultations on Alaska Fisheries Protection and Restoration

The Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will hold tribal consultations with Alaska Native leaders and subsistence users on fisheries protection and restoration at two locations on Oct. 5 and 7. The sessions will take place in person and virtually. 

Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis, and Senior Advisor for Alaska Affairs Raina Thiele will be joined in person by NOAA Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Fisheries Dr. Kelly Kryc, as well as staff from both Departments. NOAA Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Dr. Richard Spinrad and NOAA Assistant Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service and Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere Janet Coit will participate virtually.

Subsistence practices are vital to the lifeways and cultures of Alaska Native communities, which depend heavily on subsistence fishing practices for nutritional, social, economic and traditional cultural needs. This is the first-ever nation-to-nation consultation focused specifically on fisheries protection in Alaska.

The schedule for consultations with Alaska Native villages, Tribal consortia, Alaska Native organizations and corporations, and subsistence users is below. Please note that nation-to-nation consultations are closed to press. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022 

  • Time: 1 to 4 p.m. AKDT
  • Location: Orutsararmiut Native Council Multi-Purpose Building, 334 Akiachak Ave., Bethel, Alaska 99559
  • Virtual registration Zoom link
  • Dial-in information:
    • 1 (669) 254-5252; Meeting ID: 161 313 4594; Passcode: 418379 or
    • 1 (646) 828-7666; Meeting ID: 161 313 4594; Passcode: 418379 

Friday, October 7, 2022 

  • Time: 1 to 4 p.m. AKDT
  • Location: David Salmon Tribal Hall, 111 Clay St., Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
  • Virtual registration Zoom link
  • Dial-in information: 
    • 1 (669) 254-5252; Meeting ID: 161 109 0921; Passcode: 384425 or 
    • 1 (646) 828-7666; Meeting ID: 161 109 0921; Passcode: 384425

For more information on these consultations, visit the Upcoming Tribal Consultations page on the Interior Department’s website. 

Native Leaders Lobby in DC for Bills Protecting Sacred Sites

Native leaders, organizations, and grassroots activists on Thursday went to Capitol Hill to lobby for passage of two House bills that would codify greater protections and honor tribal sovereignty.

After hosting a ceremony at the totem pole gifted to the Biden administration last year — as part of the Red Road to DC — leaders met with members of Congress to advocate for passage of the Advancing Tribal Parity on Public Lands Act and the Tribal Cultural Areas System Act.

“Indian Country took a strong stand last year through the Red Road to DC,” said Judith LeBlanc (Caddo), executive director of Native Organizers Alliance. “Thousands of Tribal members and advocates told the federal government to do more to protect these sacred places that are a part of us. And they have responded.” 

“Native peoples have been on the frontlines, fighting for our sacred places where we gather food and medicine, get drinking water, and perform ceremonies,” said Woody Lee, executive director of Utah Diné Bikéyah. “We do this because our lands, waters, and resources are a part of us. When they are gone, we all go with them.”

Arizona Senators Sinema and Kelly Announce $3.9 Million Grant for Yavapai-Prescott Tribe’s Road Improvements

Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema  (D-AZ) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) on Tuesday announced a $3.9 million grant awarded to the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe for crucial roadway infrastructure improvements to prepare for future economic growth on the reservation and in the region.

As part of the American Rescue Plan and U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Coal Communities Commitment, the grant targets the Yavapai-Prescott Reservation because of its declining use of coal and helps the region by creating new jobs and economic opportunities in otherwise hard to reach areas. Sinema and Kelly’s grant promotes new economic development and the enhancement of existing businesses on the reservation.

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