Wááshindoon Weekly

October 6, 2023

Executive Director's Corner


Greetings, readers of the Wááshindoon Weekly! This week the Navajo Nation Washington Office is excited to provide you with the latest updates and highlights within Indian Country.

First, we turn our attention to transportation, an essential aspect of tribal development and connectivity. The Navajo Nation Washington Office has been actively advancing tribal transportation relationships at a national conference, working tirelessly to foster connections with federal agencies, policymakers, and fellow tribal nations. We recognize the importance of robust transportation infrastructure in supporting the growth and prosperity of our communities.

Shifting gears, we come to a concerning matter involving immigrant Chinese workers and their allegations of forced labor at illegal marijuana farms. These farms, spearheaded by Dineh Benally, a former Navajo Nation political candidate, were envisioned as an economic frontier for the Navajo Nation. While economic diversification is a priority, it is paramount that our ventures uphold ethical labor practices and respect the dignity of all workers involved.

Next, we address the critical issue of health equity in Indian Country. The Navajo Nation recently participated in the National Indian Health Board's Symposium on Tribal Health Equity Data. This symposium allowed us to share our experiences and collaborate with other tribal nations, taking a significant step towards improving healthcare outcomes for all Native peoples. By leveraging data-driven policies and practices, we can work towards achieving health equity and ensuring the well-being of our communities.

Water quality is another pressing concern, and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority has struck key agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to safeguard the Navajo Nation's water resources. Access to clean and safe water is a fundamental human right, and this collaboration with the EPA marks an important milestone in our efforts to protect our communities and preserve our natural resources.

Finally, a historic event has unfolded in the political landscape of the United States. Speaker Kevin McCarthy of the House of Representatives has been ousted, raising concerns of a government shutdown. This development has significant implications for Indian Country, as Congress cannot move forward until a new Speaker is appointed. The Navajo Nation Washington Office is closely monitoring the situation, advocating to ensure that the unique needs and interests of the Navajo Nation are considered during this critical time.

These stories embody the diverse challenges and opportunities that impact the Navajo Nation and Indian Country as a whole. As the Navajo Nation Washington Office, we remain steadfast in our commitment to advocate for our community's well-being, foster meaningful relationships, and strive for positive change. Together, we can forge a brighter future for all Native peoples.


Weekly Updates

Photo Source: NNWO

Navajo Nation Washington Office Advances Tribal Transportation Relationships at National Conference

The Navajo Nation Washington Office (NNWO) marked their presence at the National Transportation in Indian Country Conference held from September 24 – 28. Executive staff from various transportation departments used the platform to emphasize forging stronger and more responsive partnerships with Tribal Nations. 

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Immigrant Chinese Workers Filed Lawsuit, Alleging Forced Labor at Illegal Marijuana Farms 

In 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, unlawful marijuana establishments began to surface in and near Shiprock, New Mexico. Dineh Benally, a former Navajo Nation political candidate, initiated these businesses. He saw the cannabis industry as a new economic opportunity for the Navajo Nation. However, his unauthorized activities were stopped by federal, tribal, and state law enforcement agencies. A year later, New Mexico authorized recreational marijuana use. However, the Navajo Nation, a sovereign entity partly located in New Mexico, has not legalized marijuana, and its use continues to be prohibited. 

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Navajo Nation Participates in NIHB's Symposium on Tribal Health Equity Data: A Step Toward Health Equity in Indian Country

On September 26, 2023, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) hosted a critical Tribal Health Equity Data Symposium at American University in Washington, DC. The event attracted representatives from Indian Country, including members from the Navajo Nation, one of the largest and most influential tribal nations in the United States. The symposium served as a platform for these representatives to share their profound knowledge and experiences, thereby strengthening the collective voice of Indian Country. 

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EPA Strikes Key Agreements with Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to Safeguard Navajo Nation's Water Quality 

In a significant development for the Navajo Nation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced two landmark agreements with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA). The agreements aim to address non-compliance with the Clean Water Act's wastewater regulations, which have been in place since 1948 and extensively reformed in 1972. The Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutants into America's waters without acquiring a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. 

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Office of the U.S. House Speaker Vacated 

On Tuesday, October 3, in a history-setting vote, the House of Representatives voted 216-to-210 on a resolution to vacate the Office of the U.S. House Speaker. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-R) introduced the legislation following an 11th-hour deal Speaker McCarthy made with House Democrats to avert a government shutdown. With a majority in favor, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CA-R) was removed from his position. Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-R) was appointed Speaker pro tempore following the vacancy. 

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Additional News and Updates

Federal Register

Presidential Declaration of a Major Disaster for Public Assistance Only for the Navajo Nation

This is a Notice of the Presidential declaration of a major disaster for Public Assistance Only for the Navajo Nation (FEMA–4703–DR), dated 04/11/2023.

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Proposed Reallotment of Fiscal Year 2022 Funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Community Service (OCS), Division of Energy Assistance announces a preliminary determination that funds from the Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2022 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are available for reallotment to States, Territories, Tribes, and Tribal organizations that received FFY 2023 direct LIHEAP grants. The purpose of this award is to redistribute FFY 2022 annual LIHEAP funds that grant recipients were unable to obligate or carry over to FFY 2023. No sub-recipients of these grant recipients or other entities may apply for these funds.

Comment Deadline: October 26, 2023

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Upcoming Events

HUD-ONAP National Tribal Housing Summit

October 31 - November 2, 2023 

The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) and the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) is hosting the HUD-ONAP National Tribal Housing Summit at the Intercontinental St. Paul Riverfront in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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80th Annual Convention & Marketplace

November 12-17, 2023

This November, NCAI will be hosting the 80th Annual Convention and Marketplace to provide an opportunity to work collaboratively on protecting and advancing tribal sovereignty. Tribal leaders, NCAI members, Native youth, and partners from across Indian Country will gather in-person to discuss critical issues, develop strategy, and to embark upon a new era of Nation-to-Nation engagement. 

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Tribal Consultations

Department of Health and Human Services/FDA

Post-marketing Approaches to Obtain Data on Populations Underrepresented in Clinical Trials for Drugs and Biological Products.

Comment Deadline: October 10, 2023

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Tribal Data Priorities

To make progress on this need for improved data, an Indian Country Data Working Group (ICDWG) was established among Federal Agencies to identify shared goals and actions which could be presented to Tribes in consultation. The goals and actions address a spectrum of efforts including: ensuring Tribal sovereignty is recognized upfront in all our practices, improving quality of existing data, creating new data sources, increasing capability to integrate data, and producing new data driven research products.

Comment deadline: October 20, 2023

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The Internal Revenue Service 

Proposed amendments to regulations applicable to affiliated groups of corporations that file consolidated Federal income tax returns. 

Comment deadline: November 6, 2023.

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Proposed rule for Tree Care Operations

November 9, 2023

The agency currently applies a patchwork of standards and the OSH Act’s general duty clause, 29 U.S.C. 654(a)(1), to attempt to address these hazards. However, the relatively high frequency of fatalities and injuries for workers facing these hazards indicates that further regulation may be needed. OSHA is therefore considering whether it should promulgate a new Tree Care Operations standard for both general industry and construction work.

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Contract Support Costs (CSC) for Tribes with Self-Governance Funding Agreements

November 29, 2023

A tribal consultation on the calculation and distribution process of Contract Support Costs (CSC) for Tribes with self-governance funding agreements with the Department of the Interior (Department) and Indian Affairs. The CSC is vital funding to Indian Country, and the Department is committed to ensuring calculations are accurate and paid according to law.

Comment Deadline: December 29, 2023

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U.S. Commission on Civil Rights/NMAC Public meeting

October 17, 2023

The purpose of the meeting will be to review the latest draft of their report on education adequacy on Native American students.

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Contract Support Costs (CSC) for Tribes with Self-Governance Funding Agreements

November 1, 2023

A tribal consultation on the calculation and distribution process of Contract Support Costs (CSC) for Tribes with self-governance funding agreements with the Department of the Interior (Department) and Indian Affairs. The CSC is vital funding to Indian Country, and the Department is committed to ensuring calculations are accurate and paid according to law.

Comment Deadline: December 29, 2023

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Indian Health Service (IHS)

November 8, 2023 

Hosting a series of consultations on the Health Information Technology (IT) Modernization Program. Virtual consultations will take place on November 8, 2023 and will cover different aspects of the Modernization effort.  

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Held a listening session and tribal consultation on July 27, 2023 to begin the process to update FEMA’s tribal mitigation planning policy. 

Comment deadline: November 30, 2023.

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Health and Human Services, Office of Child Care 

Requesting public comment on the rules and regulations of the Tribally administered Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program as part of the Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) commitment to creating partnerships with Tribal Nations to identify and implement solutions that transcend traditional program boundaries. 

Comment deadline: January 2, 2024.

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IHS Health Information Technology Modernization

Announcing an opportunity for interested Tribal and Urban Indian Organization sites to become directly involved in the collaborative planning for the new IHS enterprise electronic health record (EHR) solution.

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For more information regarding topics provided in the newsletter, please contact NNWO at info@nnwo.org.

Navajo Nation Washington Office | www.nnwo.org

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