Legislation Blog Posts

This month is National wildfire awareness month, and it is an important time for those of us who live in regions prone to wildfires. Wildfires have been a threat to ecosystems, human life, and property, many Tribes live in areas that face regular wildfires such as forests, grasslands, and prairies. Here in the southwest, wildfires are intensified by the hot and dry conditions of ongoing drought. However, the threat is spreading to more areas around the world. According to a 2022 UN Environment Programme report, wildfires are burning more frequently and with greater intensity, and in areas that do not normally experience them.

Wildfires are part of the larger...

Program Overview

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) is now the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP replaced the EBB on December 31, 2021. An additional $14.2 billion was appropriated to the ACP to continue offering broadband service discounts and device reimbursements for qualifying households. The main changes to the program are:

  • The benefit amount will change from $50 to $30 a month on non-Tribal Lands

  • Households on qualifying Tribal Lands will still receive a monthly benefit of $75 a month

  • Changes in eligibility criteria: Loss of income and eligibility through their provider’s COVID-19 program will no longer be considered

New enrollments for the ACP will began on December 31, 2021. However, there...

As the Federal government transitions to the Affordable Connectivity Program, it is worth analyzing the impact of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The Emergency Broadband Benefit program (EBB), established under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, began accepting applications on May 12, 2021. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the program to establish greater accessibility to broadband internet by providing discounted broadband service as well as discounts on broadband enabled devices to qualifying low-income households. Broadband access arose as a top priority in the last two years and accessibility inequities across the nation were especially highlighted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This update will offer insight into...

During this year's Native American Heritage Month, Tribal leaders and high-level White House Officials constructed discourse with respect to issues important in Indian Country.  The 2021 Tribal Nations Summit (the Summit), hosted by the White House, was held on November 15th and 16th. This is the first time the Summit has taken place since 2016. The Summit presented a unique opportunity for nation-to-nation dialogue on support to Tribal communities to create opportunities, advance equity, and address new and long-standing challenges. Topics addressed included Infrastructure, Native languages, climate change and COVID-19. Several members of the American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) attended the Summit.

The Summit commenced by releasing the “White House Tribal...

Coming from Minnesota, I never gave a second thought to wearing traditional regalia and an eagle feather at my graduation ceremony. In fact, it was encouraged. It wasn’t until I moved to Arizona that I learned, until recently, students were barred from wearing both. This made me deeply sad and frustrated for the students who were so proud to graduate but were unable to express their pride by wearing their traditional regalia and eagle feathers. However, with the passing of HB2705 in Arizona, students can now wear traditional regalia to their graduation. 

For Arizona Indigenous graduates, HB2705 represents more than the ability to wear traditional regalia during a graduation ceremony....

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) granted a total of $31.2 billion to Indian Country, including the agencies that serve Tribal nations. The bill was signed on March 11, 2021 and directed the U.S. Treasury to distribute $20 billion directly to Tribal governments through the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund. The legislation gave broad discretion to the Treasury by stating that, “(i) $1 billion is to be allocated equally among eligible Tribal governments and (ii) $19 billion is to be allocated to Tribal governments in a manner determined by the Secretary of the Treasury.”

The Treasury held five Tribal consultations on the distribution of ARP funding throughout March and...

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) granted a total of $31.2 Billion to Indian Country, including the agencies that serve Tribal nations. The bill was signed on March 11, 2021, and federal agencies are still currently working on the disbursement formulas for the ARPA funds.  However, on Friday, April 30, 2021, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced their plan to disperse the $900 million appropriated to them in the ARPA.

ARPA funds are intended to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the BIA’s disbursement plan goes to address many of the necessary services that arose during the pandemic. The disbursement plan consists of:

  • $20 million for potable

  • ...

Earlier this year, the AIPI was a partner with the Virginia G. Piper Center For Creative Writing under their prestigious award from the National Institute of the Arts Grant The Big Read.  The goal of this program is to expose communities to diverse books and perspectives they may never have otherwise discovered. So, as a newcomer to Phoenix, when I saw that the Phoenix Indian School was one of the locations and a  part of The NEA Big Read: Phoenix I immediately jumped at the opportunity to view the webinar, and later, tour the school. After listening to the stories from two former students, and...

P.L. 166-152, or The Great American Outdoors Act, was signed into law on September 4, 2020. The law marks a historic investment of $1.6 Billion into infrastructure projects at National Parks and other Federal facilities. Considering that Secretary Haaland is an outspoken advocate of protecting public lands, it is not surprising that she is in support of this policy, which also includes specific provisions that will impact Indian Country. 

This new law also includes funding for the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) by including BIE schools in the list of eligible infrastructure projects. The law is able to fund BIE school projects by creating the National Parks and Public...

Indian Country has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, largely due to existing inequities exacerbated by the pandemic. Inadequate healthcare, a lack of housing, and underdeveloped infrastructure increased the severity of COVID-19 in Tribal communities. This resulted in an infection rate four times higher, and tragically, mortality rates twice that of other populations. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact emphasizes the importance of addressing underlying systemic inequality as the threat of COVID-19 slowly dissipates and we attempt a return to a ‘new normal’.  

Despite the pandemic’s severity, Indian Country has risen to meet every challenge head-on. Over the past year, Tribal Nations worked tirelessly to efficiently utilize available resources and find innovative ways to...

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