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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 recently.

Senators Coordinate Effort to Tackle Native American Drinking Water Crisis

Chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Energy and Natural Resource Committee Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Alex Padilla, and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Brian Schatz today announced they will hold coordinated hearings on water access challenges in America.

“Clean drinking water is a human right, and it is unacceptable that anyone in this great nation is struggling to access clean water. Yet, families and communities across America continue to fall between the cracks and face significant threats to safe, affordable, and reliable water supplies,” Wyden, Padilla and Schatz said in a joint statement. “As Committee and Subcommittee chairs with jurisdiction over water access, we are committed to addressing America’s drinking water crisis. By bringing together panels of experts who possess a comprehensive understanding of these challenges, we and the Congress at large will gain valuable insights, and hear recommendations, that can help overcome both short- and long-term water access challenges. Our shared goal is to emerge from these hearings with concrete and actionable solutions that can effectively address water access issues in the United States.” 

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 27 at 2:30PM ET to examine access to clean, reliable water for Native communities as part of its work to uphold the federal trust responsibility. More information on the hearing can be found here.

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Bipartisan Indian Buffalo Management Act Introduced
U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), who is a tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation, introduced the bipartisan Indian Buffalo Management Act, legislation to create a permanent buffalo program at the U.S. Department of the Interior and help promote and develop Tribal capacity to manage buffalo.
The Indian Buffalo Management Act provides secure, consistent funding for tribes and tribal organizations that have an established buffalo herd and management program, as well as provides resources for Tribes that would like to establish new herds.
"The bison has been a critical part of our culture for many generations, in New Mexico, across the West, and especially in Indian Country. The growth of Tribal buffalo herds over the last few decades is both a symbol of the enduring resilience of this iconic species and a major economic development opportunity,” Heinrich said. “I am proud to champion this bipartisan legislation to strengthen our federal support for Tribal bison programs. I hope that within my lifetime—thanks to a broad coalition—we will see bison return to the prominent place they once occupied as the keystone species on American shortgrass prairies.”
“I am proud to co-lead this important legislation that will help Tribes reestablish buffalo herds on reservation lands,” Mullin said. “Doing so ensures that Native peoples across the country will continue reconnecting with a keystone of their historic culture and way of life.”

The bill has been endorsed by the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the National Bison Association, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation.

Additional Background:

  1. Full Bill Text
  2. Fact Sheet
Rep. Peltola Advocates for Changes to National Standards for NOAA Fisheries Management

On September 12th, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) completed the public comment period for its notice of proposed rulemaking to update the National Standards of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The National Standards are principles that govern fisheries management decisions nationwide, including goals for allocation, bycatch, and fisheries-dependent communities. The Standards were last updated in 2016, prior to significant population crashes among key marine species in Alaska. Representative Peltola has worked since entering office to bring attention to the need to update the Standards to address scarcity in crucial species including salmon and crab. 

“In Alaska, fishing is our way of life. It’s how we feed our families, keep roofs over our heads, and pass on our traditions through generations,” Rep.Peltola said. “The oceans and freshwater habitats are continually changing, now more than ever. King crab, snow crab, and Yukon River salmon fisheries collapsed last year, and in Norton Sound, crab pots are coming up filled with cod instead of crab. For fisheries management to succeed, the tools fisheries managers and councils use to make decisions must change and adapt. We need to overhaul our entire system to be pro-fish. That’s not just a slogan—it’s a mission statement, and it begins with the National Standards. While we figure out this piece of the puzzle."

As NOAA reviews the public comments and considers moving forward with the rulemaking process, Rep. Peltola’s office will continue to advocate for updated standards that prioritize a productive ocean for all user groups.

President Biden Amends Hoopa Valley Tribe Disaster Declaration 

President Joe Biden on Thursday, September 21, 2023, made additional disaster assistance available to the Hoopa Valley Tribe by authorizing an increase in the level of federal funding for Public Assistance projects undertaken as a result of severe winter storms and mudslides during the period of February 14 to March 5, 2023.
Under the President’s major disaster declaration issued for the Hoopa Valley Tribe on April 25, 2023, federal funding was made available for Public Assistance and Hazard  Mitigation at 75 percent of the total eligible costs.         
Under the President's order Thursday, the federal share for Public Assistance has been increased to 90 percent of the total eligible costs.





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