Via IndianCountryToday: Looking Ahead: 2016 Loaded With Big Changes for Indian Country

Important developments are expected in Indian country in 2016. Here are some of them:

Kevin Washburn Leaving BIA; Lawrence Roberts to Take Over

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn, Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, will be leaving his post in January to return to teaching at the University of New Mexico School of Law. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Lawrence “Larry” Roberts, Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, will take over the position for the remainder of President Barack Obama’s term.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement, “With Larry’s leadership, I am confident we will continue the strong momentum rooted in tribal self-determination and self-governance that Kevin has helped reignite.” Roberts has been with the department since 2012. Before that, he was General Counsel of the National Indian Gaming Commission.

During his tenure Washburn has overseen the settlement of past disputes between the federal government and tribes, convinced Congress to make funding contract support services mandatory, revised the federal acknowledgment process, updated right-of-way regulations and improved the land-into-trust process. On his watch, the Bureau of Indian Education has begun a complete reorganization that will eventually turn over control of most of its schools to tribes.

Supreme Court to Decide Dollar General Case

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, expected in the spring, will have profound implications for justice in Indian country. Should the court rule against the tribe, it would reaffirm the Doctrine of Discovery and severely limit the ability of tribal courts to protect tribal members – even children – on their own lands from abuses, a right that both the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization of 2013 expanded.

The court heard oral arguments on December 7 and the justices seemed to lean toward favoring Dollar General’s position that the tribe could not bring a civil suit for the alleged sexual assault of a child against an entity that operated a business on tribal lands, despite the fact that the business had consented to be subject to tribal jurisdiction.

Suzette Brewer quoted legal experts as saying that Dollar General could be the “most potentially devastating case for Indian tribes in half a century.”

The Supreme Court will decide at least two other Indian cases in 2016, according to the Native American Rights Fund’s Tribal Supreme Court Project. On December 1, the Court heard oral argument in Menominee Indian Tribe v. United States and on January 20 it is scheduled to hear oral argument in Nebraska v. Parker, which pertains to tribal regulatory authority over non-Indian communities located within reservation boundaries.

New Education Law Will Go into Effect

President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 into law December 10. ESSA is the first reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act since 2001 when the highly-criticized No Child Left Behind Act passed during George W. Bush’s administration.

ESSA offers both opportunities and challenges for Indian country; as always, the details of how the law is implemented will be critical. On the one hand, the law offers much less federal oversight of education, a factor that could work against minority children, poor children, immigrant children and children with disabilities, groups whom the original 1965 federal education law was designed to protect. On the other hand, it mandates the participation of tribes and tribal organizations in local and district school board decision-making and provides expanded funding for programs such as immersion language learning.

National Indian Education Association Executive Director Ahniwake Rose, Cherokee, says, “This [law] is a huge change for Native education, the first steps toward self-determination over public education on our lands. It is the first time states and local educational agencies will have to talk to tribes. And it authorizes the STEP program, making more tribes eligible to run and operate federal programs. When tribes, governments, schools and the community have an active voice in the [schools their children attend], that’s the best step you can take to improve education.”

Carcieri ‘Fix’ Remains Elusive

Efforts to find a Congressional “fix” to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Cacieri v. Salazar have so far failed to make much headway. The court ruled that the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act authorized the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust only for tribes under federal jurisdiction at the time the IRA was passed. The “clean fix” advocated by many tribes would affirm Interior’s authority to place land into trust for all recognized tribes and affirm the department’s previous trust decisions. However, many members of Congress want the “fix” to give local governments more say in federal land-into-trust decisions; some proposed legislation has even given states and counties veto power.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, in July introduced a compromise measure. The Interior Improvement Act (S. 1879) would affirm Interior’s past land-into-trust decisions and would give the department authority to accept land into trust for all federally recognized tribes. It would not give local governments veto power over federal trust decisions but would require Interior to consider input from those governments. It would also fast track applications in which the tribe has forged cooperative agreements with nearby local governments and would require judicial review of all land-into-trust decisions. The United South and Eastern Tribes have expressed their support for the legislation. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs gave the bill its okay on December 2.

New Regs for Implementing Indian Child Welfare Act Due Out

Even as the Bureau of Indian Affairs implements new guidelines for implementing the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, adoption agencies and states are challenging the law. In July, the Goldwater Institute filed a proposed class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona challenging the constitutionality of the ICWA and the BIA’s guidelines. The case involves children whose parents’ rights have been terminated and who live off-reservation.

The BIA is now working on new regulations (as opposed to guidelines) for implementing ICWA to ensure uniformity in the way the law is implemented by state courts and agencies. The proposed regs were published in the Federal Register in March.  Comments were due in May.

Webinar: Sovereignty in Indian Education Pre-Grant Training Sessions

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) has announced the availability of $1 million in funds through the Sovereignty in Indian Education Enhancement Program (SIE) to tribes and their tribal education departments to promote tribal control and operation of BIE-funded schools on their reservations.

BIE will provide pre-grant application training to support interested tribes and tribal education departments in applying for SIE Program funding. BIE will offer two training sessions via webinar on Tuesday, December 8 and Friday, December 11, 2015. The deadline to apply is  Wednesday, January 13, 2016.

To register, go to the link provided in the table below:

Date Time Webinar/Teleconference
Tuesday, December  8, 2015 11 a.m.-12 p.m. (EST) To register for the webinar click HERE

Telephone Call-in #: 877-991-3748

Passcode: 85152393

Friday, December 11, 2015 4 p.m.-5 p.m. (EST) To register for the webinar click HERE

Telephone Call-in #: 877-991-3748

Passcode: 85152393

For more information, please contact Wendy Greyeyes at wendy.greyeyes@bie.edu or 202-208-5810.

Eight Tribes Receive Nearly $2.5 Million in Grants; Funds Help Tribes Take Control of Own Educational Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Eight federally recognized tribes will collectively receive nearly $2.5 million in grant awards from the U.S. Departments of Education and Interior to bolster their educational programs and advance self-determination goals through the development of academically rigorous and culturally relevant programs.

William Mendoza, director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, and Dr. Charles “Monty” Roessel, director of the  Bureau of Indian Education announced the awards today, during the seventh annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. The grants are funded through the Department of Education’s State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program, and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education’s Tribal Education Department (TED) program.

“Through these partnerships, we will be putting tribes in the driver’s seat by designing culturally responsive programs to help Native children reach their education potential,” Mendoza said. “These efforts will help reduce the achievement gap and make our Indian students more college and career-ready.” “These competitive grants will help strengthen tribal education departments as they set high academic standards and incorporate tribal culture, language and history into their curriculum,” said Roessel. “This program reflects our commitment to tribal self-determination. It expands tribes’ roles in developing educational goals for their communities and ensuring they have the resources to operate these systems designed for their students.”

The goal of the STEP program is to build the capacity of tribal education agencies to assume state and local administrative functions based on policies formed under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The TED grant program was created to improve the quality of education in BIE-funded schools under the auspices of a Blueprint for Reform, a guide put forth by President Obama and developed in the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The report was developed based on contributions from tribal governments and key federal and tribal officials.

The STEP program provides $1,766,232 to five Native American communities in Idaho, Montana and Oklahoma to assist tribal schools in partnering with states and local school districts to develop culturally sensitive teaching strategies, curriculum materials and data-sharing that can improve attendance, raise graduation rates and reduce dropouts among Native youth. STEP’s pilot program, featuring tribal-state-local educational partnerships was conducted from 2012 to 2015, and today’s announcement marks the first new round of funding for the STEP program. The grants provide funding from 2015 to 2019. For more information about the STEP program, visit www2.ed.gov/programs/step/index.html.

The TED program provides $700,000 in grants to support the efforts of four tribal nations by strengthen their education departments, restructure their school governance, assume control over their BIE-funded schools, and develop curriculum for their students’ unique academic and cultural needs. With today’s announcement, 10 tribal governments have received a total of $2 million in TED grants this year. This is the second round of TED program grants the Interior Department has awarded this year. The first round of awards in August 2015 provided a total of $1,350,000 to six tribes: the Acoma Pueblo, Santa Clara Pueblo, Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. For more information on TED grants, please visit http://bie.edu/Programs/TribalEduDeptGrantProgram/index.htm.

The following tribes will receive STEP funding. (One tribe, the Muscogee Creek Nation in Oklahoma, was awarded the STEP and TED grants):

  • The Chickasaw Nation, Okla. ($500,000)
  • Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho ($330,000)
  • Coeur D’Alene Tribe, Idaho ($330,000)
  • The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla. ($318,463)
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Mont. ($287,769)

The following tribes will receive TED funding:

  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Mich. ($300,000)
  • Leech Lake Band, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minn. ($200,000)
  • Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Miss. ($150,000)
  • The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla. ($50,000)

As part of the Interior Department, the BIE oversees 183 elementary and secondary schools located on 64 reservations in 23 states, serving more than 48,000 students. Of these, 54 are BIE-operated and 129 are tribally operated.

In conjunction with President Obama’s Generation Indigenous or “Gen-I” initiative, the Interior Department is leading an effort to provide students attending BIE-funded schools with a world-class education and transform the agency to serve as a capacity-builder and service-provider for tribes in educating their youth.

Grant: Sovereignty in Indian Education

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) announces the availability of enhancement funds to tribes and their tribal education agencies to promote tribal control and operation of BIE-funded schools on their reservations. This notice invites tribes with at least one BIE-funded school on their reservation/Indian land to submit grant proposals.

Table of Contents

Tables

DATES:

Grant proposals must be received by September 21, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. BIE will hold pre-grant proposal training sessions. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for more information.

ADDRESSES:

Complete details on requirements for proposals and the evaluation and selection process can be found on the BIE Web site at this address: www.bie.edu. Submit grant applications to: Bureau of Indian Education, Attn: Wendy Greyeyes, 1849 C Street NW., MS-4655-MIB, Washington, DC 20240. Email submissions will be accepted at this address: wendy.greyeyes@bie.edu. Limit email submissions to attachments compatible with Microsoft Office Word 2007 or later and files with a .pdf file extension. Emailed submissions may not exceed 3MB total in size. Fax submissions are NOT acceptable.Show citation box

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Wendy Greyeyes, Bureau of Indian Education, Office of the Director, Washington, DC 20240, (202) 208-5810.

For more information from the Federal Register, click here.

Tribal Education Department Grant Program- Notice

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) announces the availability of grants to tribes and their tribal education departments (TEDs) for projects defined under 25 U.S.C. 2020. This notice invites tribes with BIE-funded schools on or near Indian lands to submit grant proposals.

Table of Contents

Tables

DATES:

Grant proposals must be received by September 21, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. BIE will hold pre-grant proposal training sessions. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for more information.

ADDRESSES:

Complete details on requirements for proposals and the evaluation and selection process can be found on the BIE Web site at this address: www.bie.edu. Submit grant proposals to: Bureau of Indian Education, Attn: Wendy Greyeyes, 1849 C Street NW., MS-4657-MIB, Washington, DC 20240. Email submissions will be accepted at this address: wendy.greyeyes@bie.edu. Email submissions are limited to attachments compatible with Microsoft Office Word 2007 or later and/or files with a .pdf file extension. Emailed submissions must not exceed 3MB total in size. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice for directions on email submissions.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Wendy Greyeyes, Bureau of Indian Education, Office of the BIE Director, (202) 208-5810; wendy.greyeyes@bie.edu.

For more information from the Federal Register, click here.

Via Edweek.org: Stakes High for Bureau of Indian Education’s Overhaul

An excerpt:

A U.S. Senate report from 1969 describes the federal government’s failure to provide an effective education for Native American children as a “national tragedy and a national disgrace” that has “condemned the [American Indian] to a life of poverty and despair.”

Nearly 50 years later, little has changed, in the view of advocates, lawmakers, and tribal leaders alike. Graduation rates in Indian Country are among the lowest of all student subgroups, and there’s a laundry list of schools in need of significant repairs, some of which lack essentials like heat and running water.

While the vast majority of Native American children attend traditional public schools run by local districts, members of Congress and the Obama administration—both of which have admitted to shouldering some blame for the current situation—are pressuring the Bureau of Indian Education to right its flailing operations at the schools the BIE oversees on or near American Indian reservations.

But since the bureau unveiled its blueprint for reorganizing last year, adjustments to its operations have been slow going, prompting some to question whether it will work. After all, the BIE, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of the Interior, has been beleaguered for decades by rampant staff turnover, lack of expertise, and financial mismanagement. In the last 36 years, it’s cycled through 33 directors.

“Questions have been raised about whether this will address the fundamental problems facing the system or simply rearrange the chairs at the department,” Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said May 14 during a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives that addressed the BIE’s shortcomings. “Questions have also been raised about whether this reorganization is being done in a timely manner or being delayed by the same bureaucratic wrangling that has plagued these schools for decades.”

Meanwhile, with Republicans in Congress focused on reducing the deficit and pruning the budget for federal agencies and programs, there’s little new money to be directed toward the problems.

To read the entire article, click here.