10+ initiatives and a progress report
Before tribal leaders even sit down with federal officials for the 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit, here are the key areas of the Biden administration’s focus.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional announcements that will be made during the tribal nations summit, according to a White House advisory issued this morning.
WASHINGTON — As part of this year’s White House Tribal Nations Summit — taking place today and tomorrow in D.C. — the Biden administration is on course to announce a full ten fingers of administrative actions, even before officially kicking off the meeting.
The ten items below come directly from a White House fact sheet, previewed to tribal leaders and advocates yesterday and released this morning.
A comprehensive progress report (now online here) is also scheduled to be released at some point during the summit, and there may be more special announcements (see below “additional announcements” section) that occur during the meeting itself.
Also note that the administration received input from select tribal leaders to develop the following action items, before the 2022 summit began. Several tribal leaders and advocates were invited to attend pre-meetings with various administration officials in developing the plans.
“We look forward to the summit,” a senior administration official said in a press call on Nov. 29. “We met with tribal leaders today (Nov. 29) in preparation for it.”
“Our work here…on behalf of Indian Country is not confined to just one week and this event,” added another senior administration official. “We work every day to try to fulfill our trust and treaty obligations to tribal communities and make sure that the people living in tribal communities across the United States have an opportunity to lead fulfilling lives in their homelands.”
Without further ado, here’s the fact sheet:
• Presidential Memorandum on Uniform Standards for Tribal Consultation. The President will sign a new Presidential Memorandum establishing uniform standards to be implemented across all federal agencies regarding how Tribal consultations are conducted. These standards respond to input received from Tribal Nations regarding Tribal consultation and ensure more consistency in how agencies initiate, provide notice for, conduct, record, and report on Tribal consultations. The Presidential Memorandum will also require annual training regarding Tribal consultation for federal employees who work with Tribal Nations or on policies with Tribal implications.
• New Tribal Consultation Policies. To align with the new Presidential Memorandum on Uniform Standards for Tribal Consultation, and to advance the Administration’s goals of improving Tribal consultation across the federal government, nine agencies will implement new or updated Tribal consultation policies. These include: (1) new policies announced today by the Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Transportation (DOT), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and (2) new policies to be released in the coming months from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).
• New Best-Practices Report for Tribal Treaty and Reserved Rights. Today, 17 federal agencies, coordinated through the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA), are releasing a new best-practices report to integrate Tribal treaty and reserved rights into agency decision-making processes. This best-practices report was developed in consultation with Tribal Nations and implements the agencies’ Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Tribal Treaty Rights and Reserved Rights. The agencies include ACHP, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), DOI, DOJ, Department of Labor (DOL), Department of State (DOS), DOT, DHS, Department of Education (ED), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
• Implementing Tribal Co-Management and Co-Stewardship of Federal Lands and Waters. President Biden has recognized the importance of increasing Tribal participation in the management and stewardship of federal lands and waters of significance to Tribal communities. In 2021, USDA and DOI signed Joint Secretarial Order 3403, committing to Tribal co-stewardship, including through written co-stewardship agreements with Tribal Nations. In 2022, they delivered on this commitment: in total, USDA Forest Service and DOI signed over 20 new co-stewardship agreements with Tribes to further co-stewardship goals, with more than 60 additional agreements under various stages of review.
Today, the Department of Commerce is announcing that it will formally join in these co-stewardship efforts by signing onto Joint Secretarial Order 3403. This commitment furthers an all-of-government approach to co-stewardship, and ensures that additional agencies — like NOAA — will further co-stewardship goals in their management of waters, fisheries, and other resources of significance and value to Tribes.
• New Indigenous Knowledge Guidance for Federal Agencies. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and CEQ are announcing first-of-its-kind government-wide guidance for federal agencies to recognize and include Indigenous Knowledge in federal research, policy, and decision-making. Initiated at the 2021 Tribal Nations Summit, the new White House guidance was developed with federal agencies, in consultation with Tribes and engagement with Indigenous peoples, to elevate Indigenous observations, oral and written knowledge, practices, and beliefs that promote environmental sustainability and the responsible stewardship of natural and cultural resources in federal policymaking.
• Access to Capital in Indian Country. The Small Business Administration (SBA), in coordination with WHCNAA and with involvement from DOC, DOE, DOI, Treasury, USDA, OMB, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers, is announcing a new access to capital initiative with the goal of increasing awareness, access, and utilization of financing opportunities for Tribal Nations. Implementing part one of the plan — awareness — will entail identifying and summarizing all loan and financing programs available to Tribes, including through ARP, BIL, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the IRA. Part two of the plan — access — will involve identifying barriers to capital and summarizing policy, regulatory, and statutory solutions to increase access to federal financing programs. Part three of the plan — utilization — will involve increasing utilization of federal capital programs by establishing baselines of use and setting metrics to improve the utilization rate of the programs.
• Implementation of the Indian Energy Purchase Preference at Federal Facilities. To ensure that investments in the clean energy economy reach Tribal lands, DOE — in coordination with WHCNAA and with involvement from DOD and the General Services Administration (GSA) — will launch a new initiative to increase federal agencies’ use of Tribal energy through purchasing authority established by statute. Title V of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 established for federal agencies a preference for purchasing electricity and other energy products from Indian Tribes and Tribal enterprises. That authority has been unused for over 17 years. The Administration will hold listening sessions with Tribal Nations to better understand the market conditions for Tribes and Tribal majority-owned businesses developing carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE). DOD will integrate the Indian Energy Purchase Preference into electricity procurement strategies. GSA will lead a pilot focused on Tribal energy production to develop procurement strategies.
Agencies will develop training and resources for Tribes and Tribal majority-owned businesses to foster technical expertise in the development of CFE projects, improve awareness of the Preference, and encourage partnerships for CFE development.
• Electric Vehicle (EV) Initiative for Tribal Nations. BIL includes funding to secure an American EV supply chain and to build out the first-ever nationwide public EV charging network of 500,000 EV chargers. Today, the Administration is announcing an EV Initiative for Tribal Nations to ensure that Tribal Nations and Native communities are part of the EV future of the country. Ten federal agencies, including DOT, DOE, DOI, DOL, ED, EPA, HHS, HUD, GSA, and USDA, coordinated through WHCNAA, are supporting this effort, which will include:
mapping the proposed deployment of EV infrastructure;
prioritizing projects that serve rural and underserved areas, including Tribal lands
providing technical assistance to take advantage of funding opportunities;
prioritizing Tribal, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)-funded, and other schools on
Indian lands for replacing diesel school buses with low or zero emission school
buses within EPA’s Clean School Bus Program;
providing assistance to Tribes for the purchase or lease of EV fleet vehicles;
consulting with Tribes to consider updates to the state certification process to
improve Tribal input into state plans;
releasing a new Toolkit that will provide Tribes the information they need to start
planning and implementing EV infrastructure projects;
expanding training, teaching, and employment opportunities for Tribal members
within the EV market; and supporting Tribal Nations’ roles in the EV battery supply chain.
• Implementation of the Buy Indian Act. President Biden committed to strengthening implementation of the Buy Indian Act, which provides for special federal contracting preferences by DOI and HHS to procure supplies, services, and construction from Native-owned businesses. The federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the country, buying everything from software and building construction to financial and asset management—making its procurement a powerful tool to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities.
Today, DOI is announcing its goal of awarding 75% of contract dollars from Indian Affairs (including BIA, Bureau of Indian Education, and Bureau of Trust Funds Administration) and 10% of contract dollars across the rest of the Department to Native-owned businesses, using its authority under the Buy Indian Act. The Indian Health Service (IHS) is announcing its goal of 20%. These targets will raise Buy Indian Act utilization rates at the agencies, result in hundreds of millions of dollars being spent in Indian country, and advance the President’s effort to increase the share of government-wide contract dollars going to small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) by 50% by 2025.
• 10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization. The WHCNAA Education Committee is releasing a draft 10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization. The Administration will consult with Tribal Nations on the draft and finalize the plan in 2023. This plan will be built upon four pillars: (1) Awareness creating national awareness on the importance of Native languages, the current crises of Native language loss, and the urgency for immediate action; (2) Recognition/Affirmation—establishing a formal policy recognizing the role that the United States government played in erasing Native languages and affirming the need for federal resources and support for Native language revitalization; (3) Integration integrating Native language revitalization in mainstream society, including in federal policies, and outlining the need to create Native language revitalization ecosystems; and (4) Support — identifying funding, including federal and philanthropic sources for Native language revitalization.
Additional announcements that will be made during the tribal nations summit, according to a White House advisory issued this morning:
Strengthening and Standardizing Tribal Consultation
New Tribal Advisory Committees and Positions. USDA and HUD will establish their first-ever Tribal Advisory Committees to ensure that Tribal leaders have direct and consistent contact with federal agency decisionmakers and to institutionalize Tribal voices within policymaking.
DOD is establishing a permanent position to serve as the Senior Advisor and Liaison for Native American Affairs within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This position will provide more permanence and certainty to Tribal Nations working with DOD. The Senior Advisor and Liaison for Native American Affairs will be responsible for advising the Department on matters concerning interactions with Native Americans, including federally recognized Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations.
NOAA will add two new Tribal Coordinators to its ranks in Alaska and the North Atlantic region. The Alaska Tribal Coordinator will focus on commercial fisheries and establish strong cross-cultural relationships with Tribes in Alaska. The North Atlantic Region Tribal Coordinator will engage with North Atlantic Tribes and affiliated Tribal organizations on ocean policy issues.
For the first time in its almost 30-year history, AmeriCorps—the federal agency for national service and volunteerism—will create a new senior political appointee position for a Strategic Advisor for Native American Affairs. This position will lead the agency’s engagement with Indian country; carry out the agency’s Native American Action Plan to reduce barriers to service and increase investment in Tribes and Native communities; and develop, implement, and evaluate initiatives to further Native American participation in AmeriCorps’ programs and endeavors.
These agency efforts build upon this year’s successes of establishing new Tribal Advisory Committees at DOI and DHS; establishing a new Office of Tribal and Native Affairs at Treasury; and appointing the first-ever Tribal Policy Advisor at OMB.
New Consultation Trainings and Guidebooks. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) at DOC will launch a new staff training series on working with Tribal communities. The training will ensure that EDA staff recognize and respect Tribal self-government and sovereignty, honor Tribal treaty and reserved rights, and strive to meet the federal government’s trust responsibility toward Tribes. In December 2022, DOD will publish a Tribal Protocols Guidebook, which will serve as a resource guide for DOD components on how to build and enhance relationships with Tribal governments.
New Regulations and Process for Fee to Trust Land Acquisitions. DOI will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on proposed amendments to 25 C.F.R. Part 151, which governs fee-to-trust land (or “land into trust”) acquisitions that transfer land title to the United States to be held in trust for the benefit of an individual Indian or Tribe, including in Alaska. The process is critical for Tribal sovereignty, self-determination, preservation of history and culture, economic development, and the well-being of Tribal citizens. This process is also helping right the wrongs of past policies like allotment, which removed millions of acres of land from Tribal ownership and federal protection. In line with President Biden’s promise to make it easier for Tribes to place land into trust, Interior’s proposed amendments to the fee-to-trust regulations provide for a more efficient, less cumbersome, and less expensive fee-to-trust process, including for conservation purposes. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking incorporates feedback from Tribal consultations earlier in the year, and DOI will hold Tribal consultations on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in December 2022.
New Regulations to Protect Tribal Reserved Rights. EPA will propose revisions to the federal water quality standards (WQS) rule, clarifying that, when developing new and revised WQS, states must evaluate Tribal reserved rights to an aquatic and/or aquatic-dependent resource in the area or downstream of the area. If a right exists, states must evaluate available data to inform the level of water quality necessary to protect that Tribal reserved right, and, if necessary, revise their WQS to ensure protection.
New Baseline Water Quality Standards Rule. EPA is developing a proposed rule to establish baseline WQS for Indian reservation waters that do not have Clean Water Act WQS in place. This action would narrow the Clean Water Act protection gap in Indian country and safeguard water quality until Tribes obtain authority to adopt Clean Water Act WQS themselves.
Appendix C Rulemaking Effort. The U.S. Army has historically used USACE Appendix C for actions affecting historic properties under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Tribal Nations and Native Hawaiian communities have, for many years, complained that Appendix C does not comply with Section 106 procedures. USACE is announcing a rulemaking effort proposing to rescind Appendix C. USACE would instead rely on ACHP’s regulations and joint USACE/ACHP guidance for implementation of Section 106. The Army intends to coordinate closely with Tribal Nations and ACHP throughout this rulemaking effort.
New Regulations to Consider Tribal Benefits in Water Resources Development Projects. USACE will establish new agency procedures to consider a wider range of Tribal and public benefits of water resource development projects. USACE is the nation’s largest water resource developer, and the agency’s current procedures for development projects focus primarily on achieving national economic development benefits. Under the new procedures, the agency will take into account additional public benefits of water resources investments, including whether an investment achieves social and environmental benefits for a Tribe.
Domestic Mining Law Reform– Improving Tribal Engagement. This year, DOI launched an interagency working group to reform hardrock mining laws and policies to ensure that mining activities are conducted using strong environmental, sustainability, safety, Tribal consultation, and community engagement standards. Today, DOI and USDA are implementing a number of recommendations that will be part of a forthcoming report from the Interagency Working Group on Mining Regulations, Laws, and Permitting, including (1) recommendations on ways to ensure Tribes are engaged earlier during the development of mining proposals on public lands; (2) providing Tribes a seat at the table in discussions regarding mining proposals; and (3) improving consideration and protection of Tribal interests and resources as mining decisions are being made. Several steps will be implemented by DOI’s Bureau of Land Management, such as notifying Tribes when exploration work is about to occur and inviting Tribes to join pre-application meetings with mine developers. Complimentary to the efforts described above, the U.S. Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council) will set aside $5 million for Federally recognized Tribes in order to enhance Tribal engagement in the permitting review and authorization process for FAST-41 covered projects. The Permitting Council will issue a Dear Tribal Leader Letter to initiate consultations starting in February to design the program.
Agency Implementation of Indigenous Knowledge (IK). In support of the Administration’s IK initiative, DOI and ACHP are publishing new IK guidance. DOI is instituting Departmental guidance for DOI bureaus to support collaborative engagement with Tribes and the use and protection of IK. ACHP is developing a policy regarding the role IK has in historic preservation to advance greater incorporation of and consideration for IK throughout the review process under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
USDA to Fund IK Research Track at AISES. In further support of the Administration’s IK Initiative, USDA will partner with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) to fund an IK research track at the annual AISES conference for students who conduct science and engineering research at the intersection of western science and IK.
Tribal Climate Resilience and Community-Driven Relocation. DOI is announcing new community-driven relocation demonstration projects. This funding represents a vital investment to address the growing risks faced by many Tribes as a result of climate change. DOI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Denali Commission, and partnering federal agencies, will coordinate with these Tribes to support their relocation efforts and address the numerous and costly aspects of relocating entire communities. BIL funding will also support Tribal climate resilience through increased funding for the BIA Annual Awards Program that is available to all Tribes facing climate-related risks.
Additional Support for Community-Driven Relocation. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program will allocate $40 million from BIL to assist with community-driven relocation of Alaska Native Villages due to climate change, erosion, and flooding. Seven villages have been chosen from a set of the highest-risk villages. This funding will cover feasibility studies, watershed planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, and move design. USDA will coordinate with DOI’s community-driven relocation program in providing this funding.
New Director of Alaska Native Climate Change Initiatives. NOAA is using Climate and Equity Pilot Project funds to establish a director of Tribal climate change initiatives position at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), a non-profit Tribal health organization serving Alaska Native and American Indian people in Alaska. The director will lead a landscape assessment of Tribal climate change adaptation activities in Alaska and establish a baseline understanding of Tribal climate change challenges and responses. In addition, the director will lead the formulation and launch of an Alaska Tribal Climate Change Advisory Group to ensure that Tribal climate change efforts across the state are led and prioritized by Alaska Native people.
Economic Development, Energy, and Infrastructure
Tribal Clean Energy Transition Initiative. DOE is launching a new inter-agency initiative to support Tribes transitioning from conventional to clean energy development. DOE will enter into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with interested Tribes to establish frameworks for collaboration. DOE will coordinate and collaborate with WHCNAA and the Interagency Working Group on Coal Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization. Active involvement from DOI, DOT, USDA, DOC, ED, and DOL will support and strengthen this initiative.
Renewable Energy Accelerated Deployment Initiative for Indian Country (READI). DOI is announcing the Renewable Energy Accelerated Deployment Initiative for Indian Country (READI) to centralize Native renewable energy expertise and expedite renewable energy resource development on Indian lands. The initiative will: streamline and advance renewable energy development in departmental policies, procedures, and regulations, including leasing; solicit and receive Tribal government advice on renewable energy resource needs and priorities; and incentivize renewable energy development on Indian lands through technical assistance and consensus-based updates to regulations and other legal authorities.
New Gaming Regulations. DOI will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on proposed amendments to regulations governing the review and approval of Tribal-state gaming compacts (found at 25 C.F.R. Part 293). Indian gaming is a vital economic and community development tool that has funded strong Tribal governments and significantly advanced Tribal self-determination. The proposed amendments seek to improve the negotiation process for Tribal-state compacts by clarifying allowable topics of negotiation, better defining key terms, and clearly outlining when DOI must review a gaming compact. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking incorporates feedback received during Tribal consultations, and DOI will hold additional Tribal consultations on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in December 2022.
Enhancing Tribal Participation in the 477 Program. Last month, 12 federal agencies signed a new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to implement the Tribal “PL477 Program,” named for Public Law 102-477. PL477 allows Tribal governments to consolidate important federal funding for job training, workforce development, and other economic development purposes into a single plan, with a single reporting requirement, administered by DOI. PL477 eases the burden on Tribes and makes it easier to provide federally funded employment and job training services based on unique Tribal goals. DOI and DOL will develop guidance to assist Tribes in using the new 477 MOA to boost their employment, job training, and related services. This guidance will help Tribes (1) identify funding eligible for consolidation and (2) develop and submit 477 plans for approval.
SBA Funding for Native American Serving Organizations. SBA is announcing $1.2 million in funding for seven organizations providing community-level training and technical assistance for Native American small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. SBA now has more Native American-focused partners than ever before, thanks in part to the Community Navigators Pilot Program, an ARP initiative designed to reduce barriers faced by underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs.
Consultation on Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee’s Dual Taxation Report. Dual taxation on Tribal lands (i.e., taxes levied by both state and Tribal governments on the same persons, properties, or transactions) inhibits Tribal economic development and economic sustainability because it diverts tax revenue from Tribes to non-Tribal governments and deters private sector capital investment in Indian country. The Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee (TTAC) issued a report in 2021 that documented the effects of dual taxation and provided recommendations for federal partners. Due to increased Tribal leader interest, and to ensure a robust evaluation of these recommendations, Treasury will commence a second consultation on this report and address feedback during the first public TTAC meeting in 2023.
Tribal Transit Symposium. Today, DOT is announcing its first-ever Tribal Transit Symposium, which will be held in 2023. This symposium will provide Tribes the opportunity to: meet with Federal Transit Administration leadership; receive technical assistance; learn about funding opportunities under BIL; and learn about the Tribal Transit Program, which funds planning, capital, and operating assistance for Tribal public transit services.
Tribal Aviation Symposium. Today, DOT is announcing that it will join the Federal Aviation Administration in co-hosting its second Tribal Aviation Symposium in 2023. This symposium will be open to all 574 Tribes and will cover grant applications, Tribal access to airports, commercial sea plan access, drone usage, and Tribal youth engagement and education. Technical assistance will be provided to Tribal airport owners and operators on airport improvement plans and financial reimbursement and reporting procedures.
Improving Highway Safety in Indian Country. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is leading a multi-agency effort to address highway safety in Indian country. In 2023, NHTSA will expand the initiative. This campaign will bring awareness to the higher rates of fatal crashes in Indian country and will include safety strategies for Tribes. NHTSA will partner with BIA’s Office of Public Safety and Justice to conduct outreach to Tribes for the campaign.
Tribal Maritime Roundtable. DOT is announcing that its Maritime Administration (MARAD) will host its first-ever Tribal Maritime Roundtable in 2023 to update Tribes on the Port Infrastructure Development Program, the America’s Marine Highway Program, and workforce development opportunities in the maritime sector.
Tribal Broadband and Spectrum
DOI-FCC-DOC Electromagnetic Spectrum MOU. DOI, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and DOC are announcing a new MOU to advance consistent interagency coordination to promote electromagnetic spectrum access and deployment of broadband and other wireless services on Tribal lands. The MOU will provide a framework for exploring new opportunities for tribal policy development for wireless services, including spectrum access and data exchange, in support of Tribes’ political and economic self-determination.
Establishment of a DOI Office of Indigenous Communications & Technology (OICT). The new office will assist Tribal Nations and Tribal entities in managing, developing and maintaining broadband infrastructure, new electromagnetic spectrum leasing mechanisms, and in providing technical assistance for the establishment of wireless, digital, and technological projects on Tribal lands. The office will also focus on the development of new technological services to facilitate new partnerships between Tribes and the tech industry for the advancement of Tribal self-governance initiatives, including EV; light detection and ranging (LiDAR) used for mapping, surveying and other services; and opportunities for Indigenous participation in data science, coding, and software engineering.
Public Safety and Justice
New Memorandum of Understanding to Improve Law Enforcement Coordination in Indian Country. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and DOI’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, on behalf of the BIA Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS), will sign a new Memorandum of Understanding, which will be the first update of the agencies’ MOU since the early 1990s. The new MOU will clarify investigative roles, define best practices, and recommend training for personnel working in Indian Country, a significant reform to improve coordination between the two law enforcement agencies that share responsibility for investigating Indian Country crimes, including missing or murdered Indigenous people (MMIP) investigations.
Improving Case Intake for MMIP Cases. The FBI and BIA-OJS will embed a criminal investigator and program analysts from DOI’s Missing and Murdered Unit into the FBI headquarters-level unit in charge of Indian country to facilitate MMIP case intake. Having MMIP-experienced staff involved at inception will expedite and enhance law enforcement’s approach to MMIP cases from the outset.
New National Native American Outreach Services Liaison. DOJ is announcing its first-ever National Native American Outreach Services Liaison. This position was created as part of the President’s Executive Order on Improving Public Safety and Criminal Justice and Addressing the Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. The Liaison will build on and enhance existing protocols for effective, consistent, and culturally and linguistically appropriate communication with families of victims and work to ensure that victims of crime have a voice during every step of the criminal justice process where the federal government has jurisdiction.
Updated U.S. Attorney’s Offices Operational Plans. DOJ is announcing that U.S. Attorney’s Offices within Indian country will finalize their operational plans to better promote public safety in Tribal communities. On July 13, 2022, the Deputy Attorney General issued a directive to all U.S. Attorneys and law enforcement agencies that made it a priority to address the disproportionately high rates of violence experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives, and relatedly, the high rates of Indigenous persons reported missing. Consistent with that directive and Savanna’s Act, U.S. Attorneys Offices have, in consultation with Tribes located in their district, worked to develop guidelines for cases involving missing or murdered Indigenous persons and to update their operational plans to improve coordination, better support victims, and address other pressing public safety issues.
2023 Environmental Justice Convening. Next year, DOJ will host an Environmental Justice Convening with federal officials and Tribal leaders to develop strategies to prevent and address harms caused by environmental crimes, pollution, and climate change in Indian country. The convening will incorporate recommendations from Tribal leaders gathering during Tribal listening sessions in late 2022 and early 2023.
Expansion of the National Human Trafficking Hotline to address MMIP. To address the MMIP epidemic and reduce factors for victimization, HHS will ensure that the National Human Trafficking Hotline is able to make referrals to mental health organizations and health care providers with the appropriate expertise to work with human trafficking victims, including those who have cultural competency for working with Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific. It will do so by: (1) consulting with the National Human Trafficking Hotline on the status of referrals with cultural competencies; and (2) expanding outreach to providers with trauma-informed training and culturally and linguistically appropriate competencies for inclusion in the Hotline referral directory.
Education and Native Languages
Expanding and Implementing the Native Languages MOA. In November 2021, 10 federal agencies, coordinated through WHCNAA, signed a Native Languages MOA to promote collaboration on programming, resource development, and policy related to Native languages. The number of agencies will more than double, with 13 additional agencies now joining the MOA and committing to advance its Native languages objectives. These additional agencies include ACHP, DOC, DOE, DHS, DOJ, DOL, EPA, OPM, SBA, DOS, VA, the Social Security Administration, and OMB. Implementation of the MOA will be coordinated through the WHCNAA Education Committee and the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities.
New Resources Guide for Native Languages. Today, the National Endowment for the Arts, in coordination with the WHCNAA Education Committee, is releasing an updated Resources Guide that provides a comprehensive overview of federal funding sources, including agency contacts and program descriptions, that can be used to support Native arts and cultural activities, including Native language revitalization.
New Research on Native Language Retention and Revitalization. The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities—established by President Biden’s Executive Order 13592—will prepare a summary of research that explores educational attainment and Native language retention and revitalization to identify evidence-based approaches that will inform the 10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization.
National, Comprehensive Study of Native American Education. In 2023, ED will launch a national, comprehensive study of Native American education in both public and BIE settings in accordance with the 10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization. This national study will examine the educational landscape from birth through lifelong learning and provide baseline data from which the National Plan will derive measurable outcomes.
National Native American Language Resource Center. ED will launch the National Native Language Resource Center and conduct Tribal consultation and targeted listening sessions with Tribal Nations and language communities beginning in early 2023 to ensure its meaningful design. The center will serve as a comprehensive online resource to support American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian schools, language programs, and individuals engaged in the reclamation, revitalization, preservation, and instruction of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian languages.
Native Language Grant Requirements. ED and DOI will review federal grant requirements and suggest mechanisms to award additional grant points for applications that integrate, support, and promote Native language revitalization.
Federal Indian Boarding School Oral History Project. In June 2021, the Secretary of the Interior launched the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative (BSI) to shed light on the troubled history of federal Indian boarding school policies and their legacy for Indigenous peoples. In May 2022, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs released Volume 1 of the investigative report called for by the Initiative. To implement one of the recommendations of that report, and with new funding announced today from the National Endowment for the Humanities, DOI will begin the first-ever oral history project for survivors in 2023. Indigenous communities requested this project as a way to tell the stories of their citizens.
Native Language Voting Rights Reports. Today, DOI published translations of the landmark report of the Interagency Steering Group on Native American Voting Rights. The report followed consultations with Tribal Nations and listening sessions with Native Hawaiians, organizations advocating for improved Tribal voting rights, and state and local election officials in jurisdictions with sizable Native populations. Those sessions revealed recurring, unnecessary, and unacceptable impediments to the franchise. The steering group’s subsequent report chronicled the barriers Native voters face and recommended actions for policymakers at every level to help break these barriers down. Further, the Department took the unique step of translating the report itself into six Native languages, in writing and by audio, reflecting the regional consultation structure: Navajo, Yup’ik, Ojibwe, Cherokee, Lakota, and Native Hawaiian.
New Tribal Early Learning Initiative. In support of the Administration’s goal to increase the percentage of Native American children and families who participate in high-quality early childhood programs and services, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at HHS will launch a new Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI). TELI will enable Tribes to improve collaboration and coordination across Tribal early childhood programs (including Head Start, child care, home visiting, and preschool) to support stronger Tribal early childhood systems. ACF initiated TELI in response to feedback from Tribal leaders during Nation-to-Nation consultation. Forty-nine Tribes will participate in a broad network of Tribes working to coordinate their programs (the TELI Network) and eight Tribes will participate in a more intensive peer learning community (the TELI Collaborative).
Education Partnerships. Today, DOI is announcing that BIE will partner with the Trust for Public Lands’ Community Schoolyards Project to create outdoor educational spaces to support healthy Tribal communities. The partnership will initially identify six to nine BIE schools for such “Community Schoolyard” projects. The schoolyards will be designed in collaboration with students and community members to reflect the values and culture of each community.
National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education. Today, DOI is renewing the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education, a congressionally chartered, but long unused, non-profit organization to support educational opportunities for American Indian students attending BIE schools. DOI is working to re-invigorate the organization to support Tribally led education initiatives, including the Department’s work on Native language revitalization.
New Strategy for Tribes to Access the Strategic National Stockpile. Today, HHS is sharing its next steps in its draft strategy for Tribes to access the Strategic National Stockpile. HHS will initiate Tribal Consultation on a strategy that describes how IHS, Tribal health departments, and Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) can access the lifesaving federal repository of drugs and medical supplies to support Native communities, prevent supply shortages, and reduce health disparities.
New Policy Clarifying Data Sharing with Tribal Epidemiology Centers for HHS Agencies. HHS will announce a new Tribal Data Sharing Policy in 2023 that will include guidance and a streamlined process for Tribal Epidemiology Centers to request and access critical health data at HHS components. This policy responds to recommendations by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) as well as requests from Tribal leaders to improve data sharing at IHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In development of this new policy, HHS will be examining the broader impact of Tribal access to health data as well.
Bison Initiative to Further Food Sovereignty. USDA and DOI are announcing new efforts to help restore bison populations and promote species conservation. A new USDA initiative will include cooperative agreements with the InterTribal Buffalo Council to prepare and release: (1) a handbook to provide best practices for humane handling and harvesting of bison in the field; and (2) a hands-on curriculum and training focused on food sovereignty and food safety. USDA will also consider actions to remove barriers to serving Tribally produced bison in child nutrition programs. BIA’s Office of Trust Services will create a Branch of Bison Restoration to assist Tribes in developing new bison herds.
Nutrition and Agriculture. DOI announced Indigenous Food Hubs for BIE-operated schools and BIA-operated detention centers at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To further this work, DOI is committed to adopting Indigenous-based land and agricultural management practices and metrics for BIA-managed lands. Today, USDA and DOI are announcing that they will hold listening sessions to receive feedback on such practices, and on barriers and solutions to inform guidance on improving sustainability for flora and fauna biodiversity and sound Indigenous agricultural practices. Additionally, USDA will promote the use of traditional foods in school meals and work with state agencies and schools to overcome food safety, crediting, or other barriers to serving traditional foods in school meals programs.
Hall of Tribal Nations at HHS. HHS is unveiling its plans for a new Hall of Tribal Nations at HHS headquarters in Washington, D.C. to increase visibility of Tribal Nations as Nation-to-Nation partners in providing health and human services in their communities. The Hall of Tribal Nations will be complete in early 2023 with inaugural Tribal flags representing the members of the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee.
New Section 184 Regulations to Increase Home Ownership. HUD will publish a new Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program proposed rule that modernizes the program and provides more homeownership opportunities in Indian country. The rule will: (1) codify program requirements governing underwriting, loan origination, claims, and more; and (2) introduce much needed certainty into the program to attract more participating lenders. The proposed rule would, among other things, authorize HUD to establish a minimum level of lending on trust land.
New Housing for Skilled Workers. Skilled workers are vital to any community’s overall well-being and ability to achieve sustainable economic growth. Unfortunately, some Tribal communities—particularly those located in very remote areas—have historically struggled to attract skilled workers because of a lack of available housing. To address this issue, HUD will begin to implement a new Section 184 demonstration program that specifically targets Tribes and Tribally Designated Entities to use Section 184 financing for the construction of rental housing for skilled workers in Tribal communities. HUD will issue guidance outlining programmatic requirements and begin to make this loan product available to Tribes in 2023.
Native American Veteran Homelessness Initiative. VA, HHS, and HUD, through the WHCNAA Health Committee, are announcing an interagency initiative to increase access to care and services for American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness in urban areas. The initiative will involve partnerships with UIOs and focus on intake and referral services to ensure that Native veterans are aware of and have access to available resources.
International and Border Issues
Reciprocal Indigenous Mobility. DHS will work to identify and remove barriers that impede the access of Tribal Nations and Alaska Native Villages to border-crossing and immigration rights and benefits. These rights and benefits are needed to revitalize, strengthen, and sustain their familial, Tribal, Native language, cultural, and religious and spiritual ties. Achieving reciprocal Indigenous mobility will directly support the aims of the Native Language MOA and the 10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization. DHS will provide a report to the White House Domestic Policy Council within 180 days of the Tribal Nations Summit describing its progress and recommending any new operational procedures or legal authorities necessary to support these efforts.
Indigenous Peoples’ Conservation Advisory Network. DOS and EPA, with guidance from DOI, will launch a new interagency initiative, the Indigenous Peoples’ Conservation Advisory Network (IPCAN), to support and uplift the leadership of Indigenous peoples and their knowledge in conservation, restoration, and sustainable management efforts in terrestrial, coastal, and ocean ecosystems. IPCAN will be developed through robust consultation with global Indigenous stakeholders and will facilitate a global, Indigenous-led network supporting Indigenous peoples’ stewardship of lands and waters to address the climate and biodiversity crises.
Public-Private Partnership Initiatives
Establishment of an Office of Strategic Partnerships at Interior. DOI is establishing a new Office of Strategic Partnerships within Indian Affairs to build partnerships, leverage resources, and promote innovative solutions for Indian country. The new office will also work to bring awareness of the needs and unique status of Indian Tribes. With support from a partnership with Native Americans in Philanthropy, the office will work in close coordination with WHCNAA to serve Tribes and Tribal organizations to develop and build long-term sustainable public-private partnerships and further conservation, education, and economic development in Indian country.
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