Happy Wednesday! Here’s a look at what’s happening:

Joe Biden invests an additional $1.8 billion in Indian Country

Late Wednesday afternoon, as President Joe Biden began returning stateside from his trip to Europe, his administration announced an additional $1.8 billion investment in Indian Country as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

This money is in addition to the $4 billion announced earlier this year.

The funds will be allocated for investments in strengthening the public health workforce in Indian Country, supporting mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment and continuing efforts to detect and treat COVID-19 as well as addressing facility and equipment needs related to the pandemic.

PaaWee Rivera, Pojoaque Pueblo, serves as a senior advisor and tribal affairs director in the White House office of intergovernmental affairs. During tribal consultation, Rivera said tribal leaders spoke of these areas as places where resources are needed and that bringing an end to the pandemic goes beyond administering vaccines.

“There's also the public health and mental illness aspect of being in a pandemic and having to really make sure that tribal citizens and folks who have suffered the impacts of the pandemic are being cared for after the pandemic so that's what I think was a really critical piece of this as well,” Rivera said.

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In a statement, Acting Indian Health Service Director Elizabeth Fowler said the additional funding is critical.

“Investing in our workforce and providing our team with the facilities, equipment, supplies, and funds they need is absolutely critical to ensuring our ability to fulfill the IHS mission of raising the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level,” Fowler said, Comanche and descendant of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The White House breaks down the additional funds as:

  • $240 million for public health workforce activities
  • $420 million for mental Health and substance abuse prevention and treatment
  • $500 million to detect, diagnose, trace, monitor, and mitigate COVID-19 infections
  • $600 million for COVID-19-related facilities activities

Read more about the American Rescue Plan here.

Co-chairs of Congressional Native American Caucus meet on Capitol Hill

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, Chickasaw and Kansas Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, met Tuesday for the first time in their capacity as co-chairs of the Congressional Native American caucus.

The Native American caucus is a bipartisan group that considers the impact of federal legislation on tribal nations. It is also a forum where members of Congress from both parties exchange information, ideas and research.

The meeting Tuesday with the Native co-chairs included their priorities and goals for this session of Congress, Davids’ office told Indian Country Today.

The caucus has historically been a bipartisan working group.

Left to right: Reps. Sharice Davids and Tom Cole pose for a photo on June 25, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Davids Congressional office)

Keeping a roof over their heads

ETHETE, Wyoming — Pamela Lock was running out of options.

She’d been a school bus driver on the Wind River Reservation when the pandemic hit. Her son was away at college but was sent home because of the shutdown.

Her household bills and his apartment lease continued to pile up.

“If kids don’t go to school, I don’t work,” Lock, Northern Arapaho, told Indian Country Today.

Then she and her son were encouraged to apply for pandemic relief funds through a special emergency program run by the Northern Arapaho Tribal Housing Department. They are now among more than 300 applicants approved so far to receive about $830,000 in funds – an average of about $2,400 each.

She said doesn’t know what she would have done without the aid.

Continue reading the story here.

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Wilma Mankiller’s greatness to be minted onto 2022 quarter

The first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation will be stamped onto the 2022 quarters, the U.S. Mint announced.

Wilma Mankiller is one of the five women appearing on the quarters as part of the American Women Quarters Program, which “is a four-year program that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women to the development and history of our country,” according to the U.S. Mint. The four-year program begins in 2022 and continues until 2025.

Other notable women joining Mankiller are celebrated author and poet Maya Angelou, the first American woman in space Dr. Sally Ride, suffrage movement leader in New Mexico Adelina Otero-Warren and the first Chinese-American film star in Hollywood, Anna May Wong.

Read more here.

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