Department of the Interior
From left, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, President Scott Herman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs participate in a meeting with tribal leaders in Rapid City, South Dakota, on December 17, 2021. “Last week, I made a visit to South Dakota to highlight new resources to invest in Tribal communities. @Interior—and the entire Administration—is committed to ensuring that Tribal leaders have a seat at the table and a direct line to federal officials to advocate for their people,” Haaland said in a post on social media. Photo: SecDebHaaland
Tribal consultations announced for infrastructure programs
Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Indianz.Com

The Department of the Interior will hold tribal consultations in late January 2022 to discuss the infrastructure bill that was recently signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The sessions are scheduled to take place January 26 through January 28. Topics of discussion include climate resilience, water infrastructure, water rights settlements and ecosystem restoration programs.

“The bipartisan infrastructure law is an unprecedented investment in Indian Country that will ensure that future generations have clean air, drinkable water, fertile soil and an overall quality of life that is currently threatened by the worsening climate crisis,” Secretary Deb Haaland, who is the first Native person to serve in a presidential cabinet, said in a news release on Tuesday.

“Tribal leaders know best the needs of their people,” said Haaland, who is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna. “It is critical that Tribes continue to be at the decision-making table as we implement this historic opportunity.”

H.R.3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was signed into law on November 15. The $1.2 trillion package includes historic investments of more than $13 billion for Indian Country.

Of the amount, the Bureau of Indian Affairs will receive $466 million for infrastructure projects and climate resiliency initiatives. Additionally, the law provides $2.5 billion to implement tribal water rights settlements.

“The funding in the bipartisan infrastructure law is central to the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to strengthening Indian Country,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, a citizen of the Bay Mills Indian Community.

“I look forward to these conversations providing a roadmap as the department begins implementing the law,” said Newland, who oversees the BIA as part of his political position at Interior.

In addition to participating in the upcoming consultations, tribes can submit written comments to consultation@bia.gov. They are due by February 4, 2022.

Details of the sessions have not been posted on bia.gov or on doi.gov as of early Tuesday afternoon.

Press Release: Interior Department to Host Tribal Consultations on Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The following is the text of a December 21, 2021, news release from the Department of the Interior.

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior announced today that it would begin nation-to-nation consultations with Tribes as it implements the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law invests more than $13 billion directly in Tribal communities across the country to bolster community resilience, replace aging infrastructure, expand access to clean drinking water and help ensure that everyone has access to high-speed internet.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is an unprecedented investment in Indian Country that will ensure that future generations have clean air, drinkable water, fertile soil and an overall quality of life that is currently threatened by the worsening climate crisis,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Tribal leaders know best the needs of their people. It is critical that Tribes continue to be at the decision-making table as we implement this historic opportunity.”

“The funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is central to the Biden-Harris Administration’s all-of-government approach to strengthening Indian Country,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “I look forward to these conversations providing a roadmap as the Department begins implementing the law.”

In letters to Tribal leaders today, the Department invited Tribes to offer input and provide feedback to help inform early planning decisions related to the various programs and initiatives outlined in the law.

These sessions will focus on the implementation of:

  • Tribal Climate Resilience programs;
  • Water infrastructure and drought resilience programs;
  • Indian water right settlement investments;
  • Wildfire resilience programs;
  • Ecosystem restoration programs;
  • Legacy pollution programs; and
  • U.S. Geological Survey infrastructure law programs.

The consultations will take place Jan. 26-28 and are closed to the public. Tribes are also invited to submit written comments to consultation@bia.gov by Feb. 4, 2022.

The Interior Department received a $466 million investment for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for infrastructure projects and climate resiliency initiatives, as well as a historic investment of $2.5 billion to help the Department fulfill pre-existing settlements of Indian water rights claims in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law also made Tribal communities eligible for additional Department programs to support building resilience to wildland fire and drought, restoring ecosystems, enabling fish passage and addressing legacy pollution from abandoned mine lands and orphan oil and gas wells.

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