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Native Law & Policy Journal
IT IS ALL ABOUT ECONOMIC RECOVERY: THE STIMULUS PACKAGE
Since President Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009, Washington has been a buzz with the legislation to stimulate the economy, called the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1 and S. 1). After weeks of partisan bickering, in both the House and Senate money Committees, over what measures would best stimulate the economy, spending, or tax credits and other incentives, the legislation passed out of both Houses of Congress, with the votes of only three Republican Senators, and signed into law on February 17, 2009. Indian Country as it has been reported received $2.5 billion in stimulus funds. The February issue of The Native Law and Policy Journal will focus on what was in the stimulus package, that benefits Indian Country and what happens next in terms of who or which agency distributes the money for funded programs. How the Stimulus law will work, who qualifies and how to get the money.
Based on information provided by Congressional Democrats, the bill contains the following amounts:
· Indian Health Facilities - $415 million
· New construction - $227 million
· Maintenance and improvements - $100 million · Sanitation Facilities - $68 million
· Medical Equipment - $20 million
· Indian Health Services - Health Information Technology - $85 million
BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
· BIA Office of Indian Programs - $40 million (housing improvement and workforce & training)
· BIA Construction - $450 million (schools, roads repair, jails, irrigation, dams)
PUBLIC SAFETY AND JUSTICE
· Department of Justice Grants (DOJ) - Indian Jails construction - $225 million (coordinate with BIA, consider violent crime rates and detention space needs)
· DOJ Community Oriented Policing Services - tribes eligible to compete - $1 billion program
· DOJ Violence Against Women Prosecution Grants - $22.5 million (result of a 10% tribal set-aside)
TRIBAL ROADS AND BRIDGES
· Indian Reservation Roads (DOT) - $310 million
· Tribal Transit Set-Aside (DOT) - $17.25 million
INDIAN HOUSINGRead More
· Indian Housing block grants (HUD) - $510 million (conference note to use funding to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency in houses maintained by Native American housing programs)
· Head Start - $10 million (tribal set-aside)
· Early Head Start - tribes eligible for a portion of the $1.1 billion program
· Special Education (IDEA) - tribes eligible for a portion of the $12.2 billion program
· Impact Aid - language urges targeted funding to military and Indian reservations from the $100 million program
ENERGY AND WATER
· Bureau of Reclamation Tribal Water Projects - $60 million for water intake and treatment facilities
· Safe Drinking and Clean Water Revolving Funds - $120 million (permissive set-aside)
· Tribal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Black Grants - $56 million (result of a 2% tribal set-aside)
· Weatherization Assistance Program - tribes are eligible to compete for competitive grants under the $5 billion program
· Indian Reservation Food Distribution (USDA) - $5 million
· Native Elder Nutrition (DHHS) - $3 million (Older Americans Act, Title IV)
· BIA Indian Loan Guarantee Program - $10 million
· Tribal Community Development Financial Institutions (Treasury) - $10 million
BONDING AUTHORITY FOR TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS
· Tribal economic development tax-exempt bonds - $2 billion in bonding authority
· Qualified Indian school construction bonds - $400 million in bonding authority
· Bill language permits Indian Tribes to contract and compact to build projects and create reservation jobs pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Self-Governance Acts
· Includes $5 billion for the Emergency Contingency Fund for State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Tribes are treated as states in this section of the bill
· The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall include a representative of a national urban Indian health organization and a representative of the Indian Health Service on the Tribal Advocacy Group within the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare Services
· Tribes are eligible for the broadband technology opportunities program at the Department of Commerce
Jodi Archambault Gillettee Tribal Dancer
NEW APPOINTMENTS AT THE WHITE HOUSE:
The Obama administration is keeping its promises about appointing Native Americans to key White House or Executive Office positions. Wizzi Garroit was appointed early as the First Nations Liasion, and now Jodi Archambault Gillette, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, was named by the Obama administration as deputy associate director in its intergovernmental affairs office.
Recently First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Department of the Interior and announced there will soon be appointed a high level policy advisor for Native Americans at the White House.
SOVEREIGNTY UNDER SCRUTINY BY THE COURTS
Carcieri v. Kempthorne: The Narragansett Case
UPDATE: February 24, 2009
The Supreme Court issued its opinion in the controversial land into trust case and denied the Narragansetts Tribe of Rhode Island, the right to take additional land into trust because it was not under federal jurisdiction in 1934 when the Indian Reorganization Act was enacted and provided recognized Tribes the right to their trust lands. Sadly, Justice Breyer who joined the majority wrote in his concurring opinion, "the Narragansetts have no way of proving they were under federal jurisdiction in 1934. Because I see no realistic possibility that the Narragansett Tribe could prevail on the basis of a theory alternative to the theories argued here, I would not remand this case."
The decision blocks the Narragansetts from using a 31-acre parcel for a housing project. But it also affects every other tribe that wasn't federally recognized, or under federal jurisdiction, in 1934.
Anticipating the outcome, the Narragansetts have sought support for a legislative fix to address the 1934 issue. But tribal leaders expect major opposition from the state's politicians and Congressional delegation.
U.S. v. Navajo Nation: Indian Trusts
UPDATE: February 23, 2009
The Supreme Court heard oral argument on the Navajo case on February 23, 2009, and by most accounts it did not go well. It was reported that "Justice Ginsburg showed unusual vigor in suggesting to Carter Phillips that her 2003 majority opinion in Navajo Nation 1 foreclosed any chance for a monetary award, implying that the first decision covered any possible relevant openings for the Nation." The Supremes have not issued an opinion yet, but from the reports, it appears the mining interest have won the day.
The Court granted the government's petition for certiorari in this Indian trust case, following an appellate reversal and remand of a lower court decision concerning the existence of a trust managing natural coal resources for the benefit of the Navajo Nation.
Vann v. Kempthorne: Cherokee Freedmen Case
UPDATE: February 4, 2009
The Cherokee Nation filed a separate lawsuit, against certain individuals who are descedants of the Freedman to determine if they can maintain citizenship in the Tribe. The suit asked the court to rule that Congress unilaterally modified the Treaty of 1866, which made freedmen members of the tribe, and, as a result the descendants of those freedmen now have no federal rights to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. Those who support the Freeman believe this suit is further harassment by the Cherokee Nation, to deny their rights. Chairman Smith claims that he made a pledge to Congress to allow the Courts to decide the case on its merits, and that is the purpose of this action.
|Thank you or reading our February newsletter. We hope it gave you the information that was helpful during this unusal period of economic recovery. Please let us know any areas of interest you would like us to add in future issues.
Many of you may be coming to Washington for the NCAI Executive Session. We will be interested in discussing the Stimulus and the problems you are facing getting your projects funded. The next edition will provide more information about the ability to gain funding and produce effective results with the federal goverment. We will be happy to assist in finding the information you need.
We look forward to hearing from you,
The Native Law & Policy Journal (NLPJ) is published by Walker Law LLC, a law firm that provides law and government representation services to those connected to Native American issues, including, Tribal entities, commercial businesses, government contractors, non-profit organizations and those individuals who are a part or otherwise connected to Native American communities. The NLPJ's mission is to inform Native Americans and those interested in the development and preservation of the culture about legislative and regulatory issues that could impact their interests. Elizabeth T. Walker, edits the Newsletter. However, this publication is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, an attorney-client relationship between the sender and receiver.