Native News Weekly (10/10/2021): DC Briefs

WASHINGTON – In addition to the news already covered over the previous week, each Sunday Native News Online provides a snapshot of activity in Washington, DC that is impacting the Indian country over the past week.

Introducing a law to commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day

Legislation to replace the official holiday recognized on the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day has been introduced in Congress. This bill would also replace any reference to Columbus Day in any federal laws or regulations with Indigenous Peoples Day.

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This bill is supported by the Indigenous Peoples Day Initiative, the National Urban Indian Health Council, the National Congress of American Indians, the Indian Affairs Association of America, of the Navajo Nation and the All Pueblo Board of Governors.

The full text of the bill is available here.

So far, at least 15 states and more than 130 cities have recognized this change. Senator Padilla expresses the importance of this bill by saying:

“It is high time that we officially recognize and commemorate the contributions of indigenous peoples across the country. As our nation continues to reflect on and consider our past, this legislation is a small step towards honoring the resilience and recognizing the trauma of Indigenous peoples, ”said Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), the sponsor of the bill.

The bill is supported by the President of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez.

“Recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day will help our future generations maintain our identity and ensure the survival of our cultures, languages ​​and Indigenous peoples. I believe the name change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day will give young Navajo children a sense of pride for the beauty they carry within them, ”said Nez.

Harvard University Analysis Finds Treasury Department Unfairly Distributed American Rescue Plan Act Funds

Tribal Business News reported this week that a Harvard University analysis of this year’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) pandemic assistance funding for tribes shows very inequitable distributions, in large partly because of the stereotypical choices made by the US Treasury Department.

Researchers from the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development conducted the research using publicly available figures on, an open data source for federal spending information. The federal government posted full and detailed tribal ARPA funding on the website on October 6.

Click for more information.

Home Office announces $ 26.5 million to landowners for land buyback program

On Thursday, the Home Office announced that nearly 1,800 landowners have been offered more than $ 26.5 million from the Tribal Nations Land Buyback Program. Those landowners who have received offers have until October 28, 2021 to decide whether they want to accept or decline their offers.

The Cobell settlement provided $ 1.9 billion to consolidate fractional interests in restricted land in trust over a 10-year period that expires in November 2022. About $ 101 million of that amount remains, and nearly 4,100 fractional interest and over 2,200 acres in Omaha Reservations have been consolidated so far.

“The buyback program is working hard to build on the achievements of the initial implementation in the Omaha reserve. This is a unique opportunity for landowners to consider fair market value offers for their fractional land interests. Accepting the voluntary purchase offers will help preserve the land for generations to come, ”said Deputy Indian Secretary Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community).

Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888 678-6836 or [email protected] for any questions regarding their land or their offers to purchase, or to request a copy of an appraisal report for any valued land in which they have an owner interest. They can also contact their local trust fund administration office.

Federal Communications Commission Office of Indigenous Affairs and Policy announces opportunities for tribes to apply for radio stations

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that tribes interested in starting a radio station have two options to apply for the necessary license. The first is an upcoming filing window for new building permit applications for full-service non-commercial educational FM (NCE) stations. Tribes interested in applying should move quickly to hire a broadcast engineer to conduct a channel survey in their area, so that they can prepare the application in time for filing during the filing window.

The filing window will open at 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday, November 2, 2021 and close at 6:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. This window is available for FM reserved band proposals, which are reserved for NCE Diffusion FM . All applications must be submitted electronically through the Commission’s License and Management System (LMS). The Commission encourages all applicants to submit their application early in the window to ensure a proper and timely submission.

Alternatively, Tribes can file a Tribal Allocation Application at any time, which is available to eligible tribes to apply for building permits for full-service commercial FM stations. Like the demand for NCEs, this demand also involves a certain amount of engineering, not only to determine if there is space for a new station in your area, but also to see if such a station would meet the requirements of the NCE. the Commission for Tribal Land Cover and other factors.

For more information on the NCE filing window or the tribal award process, please contact Derik Goatson at 202.418.1981 or [email protected].

U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Holds Hearing on Indian Water Rights Settlement Bills

The US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a legislative hearing to receive testimony on S.648, Technical Correction of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes Duck Valley Reserve Water Rights Settlement Act, 2021, and S.1911, Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes of Fort Belknap Indian Community Water Rights Settlement Act of 2021.

The committee heard from Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland and Regional Director of the Missouri Basin Bureau of Reclamation Brent Esplin of the Home Office, Chairman of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation. , Brian Thomas, and Fort Belknap Indian Community President Andrew Werk.

“As the Committee heard earlier this year, many Indigenous communities still do not have this access [to clean, reliable water] and continue to lack basic infrastructure for water supply to households and businesses on their land, ”said committee chair Brian Schatz (D-HI). “This is why Indian water rights agreements are such an essential tool in the planning and management of water resources, especially in the West. “

Testifying on behalf of the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Community Water Rights Settlement Act 2021, Fort Belknap Indian Community President Andrew Werk, Jr. said that it was the first Congressional hearing on the law in 20 years since the 2001 Water Compact was overwhelmingly approved by the Montana state legislature on a bipartisan basis.

To see the full video of the hearing, click here.

Biden Administration Officials Highlight Importance of Inclusion of Urban Native Americans in Federal Legislation

Indian Health Service (IHS) Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Benjamin Smith (Navajo) testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States on Tuesday.

During the question and answer period, Smith emphasized the need to commit federal dollars to serve Native Americans residing in urban areas of the United States.

In response to a question regarding vaccine distribution, IHS Deputy Director Benjamin Smith said: State or Indian Health Service. As a result, urban Indian organizations did not know whether to make a decision similar to that of the tribes. It was eventually determined that urban Indian organizations could select an Indian state or health service for their vaccine.

“About 70 percent of Status Native Americans live off reserve and in urban areas and believe it is vitally important that these people be served.” Darryl LaCounte, the director of the Office of Indian Affairs, said. “A former assistant secretary once expressed to me his frustration that we only serve 30% of the Indian population, I would say we serve more than that, but that’s the lay of the land. ”

Neely Bardwell (descendant of the Odawa Indian bands of Little Traverse Bay), a Michigan State University student interning with Native News Online, contributed to these briefs.

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