Policy Brief – August 22, 2023

Home 9 Policy Briefing 9 Policy Brief – August 22, 2023

Policy Brief Summary:

This week, the White House Council on Native American Affairs will be hosting a Tribal Leader Consultation regarding governmental action in protecting Tribal sovereignty.

August recess is halfway over, with Congressional focus on the Farm Bill taking a back seat until a government funding agreement is reached.

The USDA is requesting comments until October 13, 2023, for the Food and Nutrition Services proposed rule to improve access and parity in federal food distribution programs, including the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

In Tribal agriculture news, a Tribal consultation occurred at the Santa Fe Indian Market pertaining to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. While the consultations for the Act have finished, the period for submission of written is open until 11:59 p.m. EST on September 1st, 2023.

Read the IFAI policy paper on how these regulations may impact tribal producers as well as the draft comment template that tribes and producers can use to comment at this link.

Congressional Hearings   

Looking Back: 

Congress is in August recess. 

Looking Ahead: Congressional Hearings this week: Aug 13-Aug 18

Congress is in August recess 

Executive Branch Orders and Federal Agency Actions: 

No orders affecting Tribal producers this week.

Regulatory/Rulemaking Actions:   

Agency: USDA Rural Housing Service 
Action: Announcement of Pilot Programs: the Tribal Property Valuation Pilot Program and the Tribal Rehabilitation Pilot Program
Why it matters: Through various roundtables and consultations with Indian Country, Tribal leaders have consistently identified that lack or substandard housing is one of the barriers to a thriving Tribal agriculture economy. Housing and living conditions in Tribal lands are some of the worst in the United States. According to the National Congress of American Indians, 40% of housing on reservation is considered substandard in comparison to 6% outside Indian country. Furthermore, according to an article from the Washington University in St. Louis, “In 2021, homes in white neighborhoods were appraised over three times more valuable than comparable homes in similar American Indian and Alaska Native neighborhoods located within the same metropolitan area.”
Posted: Week of August 7th  

Agency: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
Action: Announcement of Final Rule effective September 18, 2023
Why it matters: FSIS is rescinding a few regulations related to Avian Leukosis Complex (tumor-causing disease in poultry) including requirement for condemnation of all poultry carcasses affected with any forms of avian leukosis.  The National Chicken Council (NCC) requested that FSIS “amend its regulations to designate avian leukoses as a trimmable condition” rather than one that requires condemnation of the entire carcass. Although the disease is said to be not transmissible to humans, this final rule is important for Indian Country to know because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “American Indian and Alaska Native (Native American) people have much higher rates of getting several cancers, including lung, colorectal, liver, stomach, and kidney cancers, compared to non-Hispanic White people in the United States.”
Posted: Week of August 21st 

Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service 
Action: Proposed Rule on Food Distribution Programs: Improving Access and Parity; comments are due by October 13, 2023
Why it matters:  For several years, Tribal leaders and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) have been advocating for better access to and parity among federal food distribution programs. While not the final rule, this is the first opportunity for public comment on these proposed changes. 
The proposed rule impacts four specific programs:

  • Community Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)  
  • USDA Foods in Disasters 
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) 
  • The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) 

Posted: Week of August 21st  

Tribal Consultation/Listening Sessions:   

Title of Event: Tribal Treaty Rights- Tribal Leader Consultation
Date/Time: August 24, 2023, 1:00pm EST
About: The White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA) seeks Tribal leader guidance and recommendations on further efforts the Federal government could take to protect Tribal treaty rights, reserved rights, and similar rights. 
Registration Link 

Title of Event: Review of the Draft Best Practices Guide for Federal Agencies Regarding Tribal and Native Hawaiian Sacred Sites
Date/Time: August 31, 2023- 2:00pm EST
About: The Climate Change, Tribal Homelands, and Treaties Committee supports the implementation of the 2021 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Indigenous Sacred Sites. There is a Working Group among those who signed the MOU that are drafting a best practices guide for Federal agencies to use when making decisions pertaining to these sacred sites. The Working Group is seeking guidance from Tribal leaders in creating this guide.
Registration Link 

Title of Event: Tribal Land Acquisition funded through the Land and Water Consultation Fund (LWCF)
Date/Time: Session 1 September 26, 2023- 1:00pm EST 
                   Session 2 September 27, 2023- 1:00pm EST
                   Session 3 September 28, 2023- 4:00pm EST 

About: The BIA has requested $12 million for the LWCF Tribal Land acquisition program and will increase the amount of land for stewardship and other uses deemed beneficial by Tribes and Alaska Natives. The BIA is seeking input as they develop a BIA- specific process and criteria which meet statutory LWCF requirements while facilitating Tribal land acquisition efforts to the greatest extent practicable. \

Title of Event: Consultations and Comment Period for Indian Arts and Crafts Act impact on Tribal agriculture operations.
Date/Time: No more scheduled consultations, but comment period for written submissions open until  11:59 pm ET on Friday, September 1, 2023 at consultation@bia.gov. About: The Bureau of Indian Affairs has proposed changes to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act that could inhibit Indian Country producers, gatherers, food business owners, and more. Read the IFAI policy paper on how these regulations may impact tribal producers as well as the draft comment template that tribes and producers can use to comment at this link. 

Supreme /Lower Court Decisions:   

No decisions relevant to Tribal food and agriculture were handed down at the time of publication 

Tribal-Congressional News: 

EPA investigates California water management after complaints from tribes (kcra.com)KRCA 

  • The Biden administration has promised to look at how California handles its water after certain Native American tribes and environmental organizations’ recent claims. 
  • The tribes assert that the state is relying on antiquated regulations that have resulted in harmful algae and cyanobacteria overgrowths that restrict the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and the Single Springs Band of Miwok Indians from engaging in their cultural, religious, and subsistence practices. 

Local garden educates community on ancient indigenous agriculture (kgun9.com)KGUN 

  • A monthly lecture on how the Tohono O’odham people thrived via agriculture thousands of years ago is held in Mission Garden in Tucson. 
  • Every third Saturday of the month, the garden and the Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture jointly present the Traditional O’odham Culture event, which is free to attend. 
  • To illustrate the agricultural practices of several eras, the O’odham area of the garden is split into two sections. 

Minnesota tribe sets enforceable rules to safeguard wild rice and water supply – Investigate Midwest

  • Industrial-sized agricultural businesses, including dairies, hog facilities, and more, has promoted the White Earth Nation to implement a series of mandatory and enforceable environmental protections.       
  • In response, White Earth Band is implementing a series of mandatory and enforceable pollution prevention and water conservation measures that challenge the orthodoxy of voluntary practices that states and the federal government have embraced for the last half century.   

Meet the beetle threatening Washington’s cherries, hops and other crops – High Country News

  • Invasive Japanese beetles have emerged in Washington state and are threatening both cherries and hops, two crops that bring in around $900 million every year. 
  • The beetle also threatens huckleberries, which are important to the tribes in the state. 

A Minneapolis Superfund Site Is Getting an Indigenous-Led Transformation  Civil Eats 

  • Cassandra Holmes is working to bring fresh, local food to the Little Earth of United Tribes community in East Phillips, a neighborhood in Minneapolis. 
  • The neighborhood is the only Native American Section 8 housing in the country and is located in the infamous “arsenic triangle.”  
  • In May, East Phillips residents struck a historic deal with the city to purchase a 7.6-acre superfund site to develop a community-owned indoor urban farm, affordable housing complex, and gathering space. 

More than 1m acres of Indigenous land flooded by dams, new study finds The Guardian 

  • More than a million acres of tribal land – an area larger than the state of Rhode Island – have been flooded by dams, compounding centuries of land seizures and forced displacement by settler colonials and the US government, new research has found. 
  • The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, is the first attempt to calculate the amount of land lost by Indigenous Americans due to the construction of dams that re-engineered America’s rivers and lakes to store, divert and control waterways. 

This Week at First Nations: August 4, 2023 – First Nations Development Institute 

  • Recently, staff from First Nations’ Stewarding Native Lands program hosted a five-day Conservation Planning Workshop in Pinon, Arizona, where 24 local farmers and ranchers learned about conservation stewardship through four classroom sessions and one full day in the field. 
  • Participants discussed range and farm monitoring, resource management, and conservation practices. 

Yupiit School District aligns itself with traditional knowledge during its first year on a subsistence calendar –  Alaska Public Media

  • In Akiachak during the summer, the school puts on its a summer culture camp. 
  • In the mid-80s, three villages, Akiachak, Akiak and Tuluksak, broke away from the Lower Kuskokwim School District and formed the Yupiit School District. The mission was a different vision of education, one that more fully embraced traditional Native knowledge. This year, they’ve successfully fought for a new calendar, one that gives students the freedom to participate in seasonal subsistence harvests. 

The Fight for Oak Flat: Indigenous voices in the green energy transition – Native News Online

  • The Oak Flat campground is a sacred site for thousands of Native Americans and home to what the Rio Tinto mining company claims is one of the largest undeveloped copper-ore deposits in the world, capable of producing 40 billion pounds of copper over the next 40 years. 
  • This site is threatened by plans to mine copper. The block-cave method proposed by Resolution Copper, the British-Australian mining company owned by Rio Tinto and BHP that has rights to the land, would destroy Oak Flat. 
  • The oak trees that produce abundant acorns in the area feed the people and animals in the area.  

New meal kit service celebrates Indigenous cuisine and producers Rocky Mountain PBS 

  • Osage Nation citizen Ben Jacobs, co-owner of Tocabe, has launched the direct-to-consumer program. Jacobs features Native-produced and traditional ingredients in each meal, like beans, corn, rice, and more. 

Weekly August 20, 2023, DC BriefNative News Online 

  • Tribes receive support to support Tribal energy and broadband infrastructure development.  

Dept. Of Interior to Host Public Meeting on Proposed Changes to Indian Arts and Crafts Act at Santa Fe Indian MarketNative News Onlin

  • Highlights areas of the IACA that could also be impacted by proposed changes, like extending to film, TV, podcasts, books, and more, in addition to the changes that could impact Tribal producers and food businesses. 
  • While the consultation concluded last week, the comment period remains open until September 1.  

SNAP Benefit Reduction Brings Changes to Tribal ClientsHownikan 

  • Emergency SNAP benefits expiring has created additional burdens and reduced food access for Native Americans served by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma.