U.S. Interior wants to invest $4.5B in Tribal communities

The U.S. Interior Department has included a $4.5 billion investment in Tribal communities in its 2023 budget proposal.

“The Biden-Harris administration has made it an all-of-government priority to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes, honor Tribal sovereignty, advance equity and opportunity for Indigenous communities, and help Tribal Nations overcome new and long-standing challenges,” the department said in a press release.

The bulk of the money – $2.8 billion – will fund Bureau of Indian Affairs programs, including $44.7 million to help implement Tribally driven approaches to deliver services more effectively and efficiently.

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About $890 million will be used to operate the Bureau of Indian Education elementary and secondary school system, which includes 169 schools and 14 dormitories serving about 45,000 individual students in 23 states. Funds will go toward improving Indian student academic outcomes, addressing maintenance needs, supporting expanded preschool and Native language programs, and providing pay parity for Tribal teachers.

About $16 million has been set aside to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People, and $10 million will help equip all Interior-funded law enforcement officers with body-worn cameras.

Finally, $7 million will go toward the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative to address “the troubled legacy and intergenerational trauma of federal boarding schools.”

“This funding will complete the historical research and documentation and begin the work to identify and protect the remains of those identified,” the department said.

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Other portions of the proposed budget also set aside money for Tribal communities, including:

-$61 million for the Tribal Climate Resilience program, providing competitive awards to Tribes for climate-resilient planning

-$60 million to expand the Civilian Climate Corps and Indian Youth Service Corps programs

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-$5.7 million for the National Park Service to strengthen partnerships and improve coordination with Tribes

Climate, clean energy

The Interior Department’s 2023 budget proposal also includes funding to address climate challenges, build climate resilience, and advance the clean energy economy, with:

-$4.9 billion for healthier lands, waters, and ecosystems

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-$1.5 billion to improve wildland firefighting capabilities (a $237 million increase)

-$174.2 million to address inveasive species

-$62.4 million to support water conservation, recycling and planning

-$51.7 million for off-shore renewable energy programs

-$152.8 million to support reviews and permitting of clean energy projects

-$60 million to support the siting of renewable energy projects

-$3.6 million to characterize and assess domestic geothermal energy resources

The complete budget proposal is available online.

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