Native News Weekly (September 25, 2022): DC Briefs

WASHINGTON — Here’s this week’s roundup of news and political updates from Washington, DC that affect Indian Country.

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hosts Spectrum Roundtable for Indigenous Communities

On Wednesday, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee led a roundtable entitled “Promoting and Supporting Tribal Access to Spectrum and Associated Benefits in Indigenous Communities,” to hear from the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Federal Communications Commission, the Government Accountability Office, and Indigenous leaders and experts on promoting and improving spectrum access for Indigenous communities.

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“In January of this year, the Committee hosted a panel discussion to discuss the unique barriers to Internet access in Indigenous communities and explore how billions of dollars raised in Congress are helping Indigenous communities invest in infrastructure to broadband and bridge the digital divide. But that conversation was missing how spectrum could be a key wireless technology for broadband deployment,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), chair of the committee. For Indigenous communities – many of which are remote and where wired broadband can be difficult to install – increased access to and use of spectrum could be a game-changer.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), vice chair of the committee, added, “Too many of our rural communities in Alaska are on the wrong side of the digital divide, lacking broadband infrastructure and access to spectrum. which are necessary for the economy and education. opportunities and service delivery today. The destruction caused by the historic storm that just hit western Alaska will only exacerbate these inequalities. Now, more than ever, the need for strong coordination between our state, local, tribal and federal governments to deploy these technologies is critical.”

The following panelists participated in the roundtable:

  • Umair Javed, Chief Counsel, Office of the Chairman, US Federal Communications Commission, Washington, DC
  • Priscilla Delgado Argeris, Chief Legal Counsel, Office of the President, US Federal Communications Commission, Washington, DC
  • Heidi Todacheene, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, US Department of the Interior, Washington, DC
  • Dr. Anna Maria Ortiz, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, US Government Accountability Office, Washington, DC
  • Sally Moino, Deputy Director, Physical Infrastructure, US Government Accountability Office, Washington, DC
  • Tyler Iopeka Gomes, Assistant to the President, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Kapolei, HI
  • The Honorable Melanie Benjamin, Executive Director, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians, Onamia, MN – Aaccompanied by Keith Modglin, Director of Information Technology, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians, Onamia, MN
  • Chris Cropley, Network Architect, Tidal Network, Juneau, AK

To watch the full video of the roundtable, click here.

IHS Hosts Tribal Listening Session

On Monday, September 26, 2022, Indian Health Service (IHS) will provide important updates and offer tribal leaders and heads of urban Indian organizations an opportunity to share their feedback with IHS officials. IHS updates will include evaluation of proposals for demonstration projects to build health care facilities, modernization of health information technology, decisions on the special diabetes program for Indians for fiscal year 2023,

The listening session will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT at 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW, WashingtonDC This listening session is consistent with the IHS Tribal Consultation Policy, the Office of Urban Indian Health Programs Strategic Plan 2022-2026, and the Draft Operational Plan for the IHS-VHA Memorandum of Understanding.

Phone: (833) 568-8864 Toll Free | Meeting ID: 161 403 6634

Introduction to Indian Child Protection Legislation

This week, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) introduced the bipartisan Tribal Family Strengthening Actlegislation designed to help national and local child protection agencies implement the Indian Child Welfare Act 1978 (ICWA).

ICWA sets federal standards for custody proceedings for abuse or neglect involving Indigenous children, alleviates the trauma of estrangement by promoting placement in family and community.

“The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) has been called the ‘gold standard’ in child protection policy and practice by experts from all fields as it requires active efforts to keep children safe in their homes and connected to their families, communities and cultures.” Rep. Chu said. “Unfortunately, there is no federal agency charged with overseeing the implementation of the ICWA standards and progress has stalled. Our bipartisan Tribal Family Strengthening Act will empower the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help states improve their efforts to comply with Indian child protection law in a way that is both within the best interests of the child and in the best interests of the tribal communities. ”

“The Indian Child Welfare Act is a response to kinship placements for our Native American children because they are disproportionately represented in the foster care system,” Rep. Don Bacon said. “Research shows us that foster care helps children develop a stronger attachment to their extended family and culture. Long-term education, employment, housing and mental health benefits must be at the forefront of our decision-making and this law will ensure that.

President Biden approves major disaster declaration for Alaska

FEMA announced on Saturday, September 24, 2022, that President Joe Biden’s federal disaster assistance has been made available to the State of Alaska to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storm, flooding and landslides from September 1. 15-20.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to those affected in the regional school attendance areas of Bering Strait, Kashunamiut, Lower Kuskokwim and Lower Yukon.

Help can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover. of the effects of the disaster.

Residents and business owners who have suffered losses in designated areas can begin seeking assistance at, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), or by using the FEMA app . Anyone using a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service, or others, can give FEMA the number for that service.

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