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Office of Public Affairs

Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

In June 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a comprehensive effort to recognize the troubled legacy of federal Indian boarding school policies with the goal of addressing their intergenerational impact and to shed light on the traumas of the past. 

Under the leadership of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, the Department prepared a report detailing the U.S. law and policy framework of the federal Indian boarding school system and available historical records to develop the first official list of federal Indian boarding school sites and identify associated marked and unmarked burial sites. This report lays the groundwork for the continued work of the Interior Department to address the intergenerational trauma created by policies supporting the historical federal Indian boarding school system. It reflects an extensive and first-ever inventory of federally operated Indian boarding schools, including summary profiles of each school and maps of general locations of schools in current states.  

Between 1819 through the 1970s, the United States implemented policies establishing and supporting Indian boarding schools across the nation. The purpose of federal Indian boarding schools was to culturally assimilate American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children by forcibly removing them from their families and Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Villages, and Native Hawaiian Community.  Indian child removal coincided with Indian territorial dispossession. The report details the conditions experienced by attendees including manual labor and discouraging or preventing American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian languages, religions, and cultural beliefs. While children attended federal Indian boarding schools, many endured physical and emotional abuse and, in some cases, died.   

The investigation found that from 1819 to 1969, the federal Indian boarding school system consisted of 408 federal schools across 37 states or then territories, including 21 schools in Alaska and 7 schools in Hawaii. The investigation identified marked or unmarked burial sites at approximately 53 different schools across the system. As the investigation continues, the Department expects the number of identified burial sites to increase.  

The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting closures of federal facilities call for further investigation. Assistant Secretary Newland recommends next steps that will be taken in a second volume, aided by a new $7 million investment from Congress through fiscal year 2022.

For more information regarding the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, go to the Department’s priority page.

What You Need to Know

Additional Information

Contact Us

U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Open 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday.

Assistant Secretary Newland to host briefing for Tribal leaders on 2023 Budget Request for Indian Affairs

Dates: April 15, 2022 1:00 am to April 15, 2022 2:00 am

Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland will host a briefing for Tribal leaders on the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request for Indian Affairs. The briefing will take place via conference call on Friday, April 15, 2022, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Contact Us

Indian Affairs - Office of Public Affairs
1849 C Street Northwest, MS-4660 MIB
Washington, DC 20240
Hours
Monday - Friday | 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Indian Affairs expands opportunities for Native businesses with new Buy Indian Act rule

For Immediate Release:
April 07, 2022

The Department of the Interior’s Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs today announced new regulations to improve implementation of the Buy Indian Act to promote economic development opportunities in Indian Country. The final rule was developed in consultation with Tribes after the Department proposed revisions to the Buy Indian Act regulations last year.

Contact Us

Indian Affairs - Office of Public Affairs
1849 C Street Northwest, MS-4660 MIB
Washington, DC 20240
Hours
Monday - Friday | 8:30 a..m. - 4:30 p.m.

Buy-Back Program sends offers to landowners with fractional interests at the Crow Reservation

For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2022

The Department of the Interior today announced nearly 3,000 landowners with fractional interests at the Crow Reservation have been sent more than $97 million in purchase offers from the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations. Landowners who received offers have until April 11, 2022, to consider and return accepted offers in the pre-paid postage envelopes provided.

Contact Us

Indian Affairs - Public Affairs
1849 C Street Northwest, MS-4660 MIB
Washington, DC 20240
Hours
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. | Monday - Friday

White House Council on Native American Affairs

Our Mission

Prosperity and resilience for all tribal nations is the vision of the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA).  The WHCNAA endeavors toward this vision through collaborative inter-agency work across the Executive Branch, regular and meaningful Tribal-Federal engagement, and by fostering an all-of-government approach in meeting treaty and trust obligations to Tribes.

Who We Serve

Key Information

2023 Tribal and Indigenous Climate Speaker Series

This monthly series is designed to educate federal agency personnel about consulting and coordinating with Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiians, and other Indigenous Peoples in our combined effort to combat the climate crises. Each webinar will feature Indigenous speakers and/or federal agencies to share knowledge and experience beneficial to federal employees working on climate adaptation priorities and is hosted by the White House Council on Native American Affairs Climate Adaption Subcommittee.

January 10: Guidance on Indigenous Knowledge for Federal Agencies and Departments

Join Haley Case-Scott and 'Aulani Wilhem for a discussion on the Administration's recently released Indigenous Knowledge Guidance and accompanying implementation memorandum for Federal Agencies on recognizing and including Indigenous Knowledge in Federal research, policy, and decision making.

Register for Webinar | IK Guidance Implementation Memo | WHCNAA Climate Adaption Subcommittee | Government-Wide Guidance on Indigenous Knowledge


The 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit

The White House is pleased to announce the 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit on November 30th and December 1st, 2022 at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. The Summit will feature new Administration announcements and efforts to implement key policy initiatives supporting Tribal communities. For more information, please visit the link below.

The Summit provides an opportunity for Tribal leaders to engage directly with officials from the highest levels of the Administration. If you have any questions, please contact TNS@who.eop.gov.

More Information | Agenda | Presidential Memo on Tribal Consultation | Fact sheet | Progress Report | Livestream Day 1 | Livestream Day 2


2022 WHCNAA Deliverables for Tribal Nations Summit

New Best-Practices Report for Tribal Treaty and Reserved Rights

Seventeen federal agencies, coordinated through the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA), have released a new best-practices report to integrate Tribal treaty and reserved rights into agency decision-making processes. This best-practices report was developed in consultation with Tribal Nations and implements the agencies’ Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Tribal Treaty Rights and Reserved Rights. The agencies include ACHP, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), DOI, DOJ, Department of Labor (DOL), Department of State (DOS), DOT, DHS, Department of Education (ED), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

For federal staff working at the regional and local level, the Best Practices Guide has also been synthesized into a Regional and Field Guide with an additional stand-alone Flow Chart. 

Best Practices Guide | Regional and Field Guide | TTR Flow Chart

Access to Capital in Indian Country

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in coordination with WHCNAA and with involvement from DOC, DOE, DOI, Treasury, USDA, OMB, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has announced a new access to capital initiative with the goal of increasing awareness, access, and utilization of financing opportunities for Tribal Nations. Implementing part one of the plan—awareness—will entail identifying and summarizing all loan and financing programs available to Tribes, including through ARP, BIL, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the IRA. Part two of the plan—access—will involve identifying barriers to capital and summarizing policy, regulatory, and statutory solutions to increase access to federal financing programs. Part three of the plan—utilization—will involve increasing utilization of federal capital programs by establishing baselines of use and setting metrics to improve the utilization rate of the programs.

Access to Capital Initiative

Indian Energy Purchase Preference at Federal Facilities 

To ensure that investments in the clean energy economy reach Tribal lands, DOE—in coordination with WHCNAA and with involvement from DOD and the General Services Administration (GSA)—will launch a new initiative to increase federal agencies’ use of Tribal energy through purchasing authority established by statute. Title V of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 established for federal agencies a preference for purchasing electricity and other energy products from Indian Tribes and Tribal enterprises. That authority has been unused for over 17 years. The Administration will hold listening sessions with Tribal Nations to better understand the market conditions for Tribes and Tribal majority-owned businesses developing carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE). DOD will integrate the Indian Energy Purchase Preference into electricity procurement strategies. GSA will lead a pilot focused on Tribal energy production to develop procurement strategies. Agencies will develop training and resources for Tribes and Tribal majority-owned businesses to foster technical expertise in the development of CFE projects, improve awareness of the Preference, and encourage partnerships for CFE development.

Tribal Preference Fact Sheet

Electric Vehicle (EV) Initiative for Tribal Nations

BIL includes funding to secure an American EV supply chain and to build out the first-ever nationwide public EV charging network of 500,000 EV chargers. The Administration is announcing an EV Initiative for Tribal Nations to ensure that Tribal Nations and Native communities are part of the EV future of the country. Ten federal agencies, including DOT, DOE, DOI, DOL, ED, EPA, HHS, HUD, GSA, and USDA, coordinated through WHCNAA. This initiative will include mapping EV infrastructure, provided TA to Tribes to increase their funding opportunities, providing a toolkit to initiate planning and implementing EV infrastructure projects, prioritizing Tribal, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)-funded, and other schools on Indian lands for replacing diesel school buses with low or zero emission school buses within EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, providing assistance to Tribes for the purchase or lease of EV fleet vehicles, and supporting Tribal nations roles in the EV battery supply chain.

EV Initiative for Tribal Nations

Indigenous Knowledge Guidance for Federal Agencies

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and CEQ are announcing first-of-its-kind government-wide guidance for federal agencies to recognize and include Indigenous Knowledge in federal research, policy, and decision-making. Initiated at the 2021 Tribal Nations Summit, the new White House guidance was developed with federal agencies, in consultation with Tribes and engagement with Indigenous peoples, to elevate Indigenous observations, oral and written knowledge, practices, and beliefs that promote environmental sustainability and the responsible stewardship of natural and cultural resources in federal policymaking.

IK Guidance Implementation Memo

Tribal Co-Management and Co-Stewardship of Federal Lands and Waters

President Biden has recognized the importance of increasing Tribal participation in the management and stewardship of federal lands and waters of significance to Tribal communities. In 2021, USDA and DOI signed Joint Secretarial Order 3403, committing to Tribal co-stewardship, including through written co-stewardship agreements with Tribal Nations. In 2022, they delivered on this commitment: in total, USDA Forest Service and DOI signed over 20 new co-stewardship agreements with Tribes to further co-stewardship goals, with more than 60 additional agreements under various stages of review. At the White House Tribal Nations Summit in November 2022, DOC announced that it will formally join in these co-stewardships efforts by signing onto Joint Secretarial Order 3403. This commitment furthers an all-of-government approach to co-stewardship and ensures that additional agencies—like NOAA—will further co-stewardship goals in their management of waters, fisheries, and other resources of significance and value to Tribes.

DOI Annual Report | USDA ReportDOI Legal Authorities ReportUSDA Authorities ReportDOI Establishes Co-Stewardship CommitteesIndian Affairs Guidance

10 Year National Framework Plan on Native Language Revitalization

The WHCNAA Education Committee has released a draft framework of a 10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization. The Administration will consult with Tribal Nations on the draft and finalize the plan in 2023. This plan will be built upon four pillars: (1) Awareness—creating national awareness on the importance of Native languages, the current crises of Native language loss, and the urgency for immediate action; (2) Recognition/Affirmation—establishing a formal policy recognizing the role that the United States government played in erasing Native languages and affirming the need for federal resources and support for Native language revitalization; (3) Integration—integrating Native language revitalization in mainstream society, including in federal policies, and outlining the need to create Native language revitalization ecosystems; and (4) Support—identifying funding, including federal and philanthropic sources for Native language revitalization.

Framework for 10yr National Plan

Native American Veteran Homelessness Initiative

VA, HHS, and HUD, through the WHCNAA Health Committee, have announced an interagency initiative to increase access to care and services for American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness in urban areas. The initiative will involve partnerships with UIOs and focus on intake and referral services to ensure that Native veterans are aware of and have access to available resources.

Cover Sheet for Native Vets Homelessness

Broadband and Electromagnetic Spectrum on Tribal Land

The Departments of the Interior and Commerce and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a new interdepartmental Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to advance consistent interagency coordination to promote electromagnetic spectrum access and deployment of broadband and other wireless services on Tribal lands to strengthen the federal trust responsibility to Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiians. Among other initiatives, this MOU is first of its kind to provide a framework for exploring new opportunities for tribal policy development for wireless services, including spectrum access and data exchange, in support of Tribes’ political and economic self-determination.

Additionally, Interior Secretary Haaland announced the establishment of a new Office of Indigenous Communications and Technology (OICT) to assist Tribal Nations and Tribal entities in managing and developing new technological and wireless services on Tribal lands and Native Hawaiian Homelands to modernize the Department’s available resources and advance true tribal self-determination over their digital resources. OICT will focus on the development of spectrum resources, wireless services, electric vehicles, and other technological services and will also play a key part in interagency coordination, technical assistance, and national policy development for broadband and spectrum services on tribal lands as part of the Interior’s long-standing role managing tribal trust resources

DOI-FCC-DOC Tribal Spectrum MOU | New Office of Indigenous Communications and Technology (OICT)


International Indigenous Issues Committee Engagement Session

** Will be rescheduled at a later date. **

Purpose: 

The Departments of State, Interior, and the EPA invite tribal leaders to discuss the upcoming launch of the Indigenous Peoples Conservation Advisory Network (IPCAN). IPCAN will be designed to support and uplift the leadership of Indigenous peoples and their knowledge in conservation, restoration, and sustainable management efforts in terrestrial, coastal, and ocean ecosystems and will facilitate a global, Indigenous-led network supporting Indigenous peoples’ stewardship of lands and waters to address the climate and biodiversity crises. 

Participants: 

  • DOS: Deputy Assistant Secretary Maxine Burkett- moderator 
  • EPA: Assistant Administrator Jane Nishida 
  • DOI: Senior Advisor Raine Thiele 

Audience includes: 

  • Tribal Government Leaders 

Events have moved to the new "Events" section below.  Click on the "View All Events" button below to a view all events, past, current, and future.

    About

    President Obama established the WHCNAA in 2013 via Executive Order 13647 to improve the coordination of federal programs and use of available federal resources for the benefit of Tribes and Tribal communities. 

    Co-chaired by the Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice, WHCNAA membership consists of heads of federal Departments, Agencies, and Offices. An Executive Director and inter-agency staff carry forward WHCNAA priorities grounded in the trust responsibility and treaty rights and informed by consistent and substantive engagement with Tribal Nations. The collaboration between the WHCNAA and Tribal leaders sets the foundation for effective federal investments in Tribal communities and for effective policies that impact Tribes.  

    The WHCNAA also supports and organizes the annual White House Tribal Leaders Summit to provide an opportunity for the leaders from all federally recognized Tribes to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of the Administration. 

    WHCNAA Committees

    More Resources

    The WHCNAA Chair convenes the principals at least three times a year per Executive Order 13647 (June 2013). Recognizing Tribes have equity in all of President Biden’s four priorities – tackling COVID-19, addressing climate change, advancing racial equity, and supporting strong economic recovery – the Council formed the following six Committee topics to carry out the Council’s initiatives:

    The Committees intend to produce deliverables and tools, make policy recommendations, and find ways to leverage resources and expertise among agencies to improve services to Indian Country. The Committees meet regularly and provide reports at each of the WHCNAA Principals meetings.

    2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit

    President Biden and the Administration look forward to hosting a robust and meaningful dialogue with Tribal leaders on key issues, policy initiatives, and goals for Indian Country. This year we have changed the name from a conference to a summit to reflect the federal government’s Nation-to-Nation relationship with Tribal Nations. The Biden-Harris Administration is deeply committed to honoring our trust and treaty responsibilities to federally recognized Tribes and the Summit provides an opportunity for Tribal leaders to engage directly with officials from the highest levels of the Administration.

    Event Details

    • Start and End Date(s)
      Start and End Date(s): November 15, 2021 — November 16, 2021
    • Time
      Time: 11:00am Eastern — 4:30pm Eastern
    • More Event Information:
      President Biden and the Administration look forward to hosting a robust and meaningful dialogue with Tribal leaders on key issues, policy initiatives, and goals for Indian Country. This year we have changed the name from a conference to a summit to reflect the federal government’s Nation-to-Nation relationship with Tribal Nations. The Biden-Harris Administration is deeply committed to honoring our trust and treaty responsibilities to federally recognized Tribes and the Summit provides an opportunity for Tribal leaders to engage directly with officials from the highest levels of the Administration.

    Additional Information

    WHCNAA Committee on Economic Development, Energy and Infrastructure

    Services We Provide

    Who We Serve

     The White House Council on Native American Affair (WHCNAA) Committee on Economic Development, Energy, and Infrastructure serves Tribes and Tribal communities by strengthening and developing federal programs and policies that support prosperous and resilient Tribal communities.  

    Key Dates

    Key Information Title

    Viritual Tribal Consultation on the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP)

    Key Information

    The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Pub. L. No. 116-260 (Act), created the TBCP, providing new sources of Tribal broadband funding to assist in mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the digital divide across Indian Country. View the Dear Tribal Leader Letter for detailed information.

    About

    The White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA) Committee on Economic Development, Energy, and Infrastructure promotes strong Tribal economies and businesses, green/renewable energy development, and robust infrastructure, including housing, for Tribes. Co-led by the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Commerce (DOC), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the White House - Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Committee is currently focusing on:  

    • Supporting Tribes undergoing transitions to renewable energy 

    • Coordinating across federal agencies to address wide-ranging aspects of improving infrastructure in Indian Country  

    • Increasing the number of Native American contractors in the federal contracting sphere  

    • Developing new tools to assist Native American businesses and contractors, including resources aimed at workforce development and improving technical capacity for Tribes  

    • Increasing broadband connectivity or Tribes and Tribal communities.

    Committee Members

    More Resources

    Leads

    • Wahleah Johns

      U.S. Department of Energy

      Senior Advisor, Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs

    • Arlando Teller

      U.S. Department of Transportation

      Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs

    • Milo Booth

      U.S. Department of Transportation

      Director, Tribal Affairs

    • Stephanie Mash Sykes

      U.S. Department of Commerce

      Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

    • Shaun Deschene

      U.S. Department of Commerce

      Director of Native American Business Development

    • Jackson Brossy

      U.S. Small Business Administration

      Assistant Administrator

    Participants

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