Native News Weekly (January 16, 2022): DC Briefs

WASHINGTON — In addition to the stories already covered by Native News Online, here’s a roundup of other news released from Washington, DC that impacted Indian Country over the past week.

Department of Transportation announces investment in historic bridge

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday launched the historic Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection, and Construction Program (Bridge Formula Program), made possible by President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act.

The program will provide $825 million to tribal transportation facilities to repair bridges. In total, the program will award $27 billion to repair approximately 15,000 bridges across the United States.

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“The Biden-Harris administration is thrilled to launch this program to repair thousands of bridges across the country – the largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the Interstate highway system,” said the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg. “Upgrading America’s bridges will help improve safety, support economic growth and improve the lives of people in all parts of the country – in rural, suburban, urban and tribal communities.”

The program will be administered by the Federal Highway Administration.

The FHWA has released the first tranche of Bridge Formula program funding to the states for fiscal year 2022 in addition to program guidance.

Legislation introduced to establish a Congressional Charter for National Indian Veterans

On Thursday, U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (RS.D.), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Tom Cole (R-OK) and Sharice Davids (D-KS) introduced bipartisan legislation to establish a charter for the Congress for the National American Indian Veterans (NAIV). NAIV is a Cheyenne River Reservation non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for tribal veterans.

According to VA estimates, in 2021 there were more than 150,000 Native American veterans in the United States.

While Congressional charters have been established for Polish American, Italian American, Jewish, and Black veterans groups, currently no Native veterans organization has received a congressional charter.

“It is very important to pass this bill for American Indians. This would allow us to testify before Congress about the unique needs of our Native American veterans,” said Don Loudner, an Indigenous veteran, registered member of the Hunkpati Sioux Tribe (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe) and National Commander of American Indian Veterans, Inc. “He doesn’t ask for money. He is only asking that Congress recognize the sacrifices of generations of American Indians who have answered the nation’s call and fought in every war since the American Revolution.

“With Native Americans serving in our country’s military at five times the national average, it certainly makes sense to grant federal recognition to a Native American veterans organization that represents the needs and interests of this unique population in 14 regions of the United States,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus and citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma.

“Indigenous people serve in the armed forces at five times the national average and have a higher percentage of women than any other population. This rich history of service to our country is reflected in my own family – my mother served in the military for 20 years,” said Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS). “The National American Indian Veterans, Inc. is an essential resource for promoting and supporting all Native American and Alaska Native veterans.

A congressional charter recognizes the authority and purpose of an organization. A related Senate bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (RS.D) in May 2021.

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Discusses the Need to Expand Broadband in Indigenous Communities

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a roundtable on “Bridging the Digital Divide in Indigenous Communities through Infrastructure Investment.”

“When it comes to… accessing the internet to bridge the digital divide, Indigenous communities face unique challenges. High cost, particularly remoteness, inadequate basic infrastructure and high cost of materials continue to make this divide more difficult in Indigenous communities than anywhere else,” said the Senate Committee Chairman. of Indian Affairs, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “That’s why recent Congressional authorization to send billions of dollars to help Indigenous communities invest in broadband infrastructure is simply a game-changer. But we have to get it right, and that’s why we all want to hear from you.

During the roundtable, the Vice-Chair, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), in her opening statement, spoke about the importance of bridging the digital divide through the implementation of credits, COVID-19 relief bills and the Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act.

Part of his opening statement:

“Bridging the digital divide in Indigenous communities seemed like an impossible task for many years, but Congress finally stepped up the passage of bipartisan legislation to deliver a long-awaited investment in broadband infrastructure to Indian Country, to Alaskan Native Villages and Native Hawaiian communities.. I am proud to have been involved in this legislative effort from the beginning.

Panelists included in the panel discussion:

  • The Honorable Manuel Heart, Chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Towaoc, CO
  • The Honorable William Smith, Alaska Region Representative and Board Member, National Indian Health Board, Valdez, AK
  • Walter W. Haase, PE, General Manager, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Fort Defiance, AZ
  • Carrie L. Billy, President and CEO, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Alexandria, VA
  • Matthew Rantanen, Technology and Telecommunications Subcommittee Co-Chair, National Congress of American Indian, Washington, DC
  • Donavan Kealoha, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Purple Mai’a Foundation, Aiea, HI
  • Hallie Bissett, Executive Director of the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association, Anchorage, AK

To watch the full video of the roundtable, click native-community-through-infrastructure&source=gmail&ust=1642393447136000&usg=AOvVaw0a_e5Lu5R4M5ss4d3REC_K”>here.

Committee hearing on race and economic disparity will take place

Chairman Jim Himes will hold a hearing on Thursday, January 20. This hearing will focus on strategies to dismantle current and past barriers that have prevented communities of color from realizing the “American Dream.” They will discuss and examine the economic disparities between communities of color and the role that discriminatory policies play in this economic disparity.

This hearing will be entitled “Race, Ethnicity and Economics: How Improving Economic Opportunity Benefits All”. This hearing will be held in a hybrid format.

The hearing will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – EST.

A live stream will be available here and on the select committee’s website.

Members of the Advisory Committee of the Office of Minorities Seeking Health Care

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 accordance with the 12 geographic areas served by the Health Service Indian.

Information about CIIHE TAC membership can be found here: American Indian/Alaska Native – The Office of Minority Health (, including eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and nomination procedures. The OMH has extended the deadline for submitting applications published in the Federal Register (86 FR 64951) from October 29 to March 11, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Neely Bardwell (descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians), a Michigan State University student who is interning at Native News Online, contributed to these memoirs.

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The Truth About Indian Residential Schools

This month, we’re asking our readers to help us raise $10,000 to fund our year-long journalism initiative, “The Indian Boarding School Project: A Dark Chapter in History.” Our mission is to shed light on the dark era of forced assimilation of Native American children by the US government and churches. You’ll be able to read stories each week and join us for live events to understand what the residential school era meant to Native Americans – and what it still means today.

This news will be provided free to everyone, but its production is not free. That’s why we’re asking you to donate this month to support our efforts. Any contribution, no matter how big or small, gives us a better and stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.

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