(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at making it easier for indigenous communities across the US to secure federal funding — a move he said would help bolster Native-owned businesses and the economies of tribal nations.
“We know that federal dollars are vital for your communities to be able to thrive,” Biden said Wednesday at the Tribal Nations Summit in Washington. “But today, there’s too many hoops to jump through, too many strings attached, and too many inefficiencies in the process.”
Biden said the order would cut “red tape so you can deliver for your community faster and better.”
The order requires US agencies to take steps to ensure that federal funding for tribes is more accessible and equitable and better addresses the priorities of indigenous communities, according to a White House fact sheet.
Agencies will be directed to pursue compacts, contracts and other agreements that allow tribes to partner with the government to administer programs and services. And they will be directed to identify ways to remove unnecessary restrictions on how tribes can spend federal funds and to mitigate cost-sharing requirements.
The order also establishes the Tribal Access to Capital Clearinghouse, which Biden described as a “one-stop-shop” for tribes and native businesses to find federal funds, something he said tribes and states had been seeking. It will provide a database of all federal funding opportunities, including grants and loans.
Biden said the administration would also streamline the Buy Indian Act to ensure federal agencies were able to get even more goods and services from Native-owned businesses.
“This year, for example, Indian Affairs Bureau ordered 75% of its budget to native-owned enterprises, up from about half that in 2021,” Biden said.
The Tribal Nations Summit is a two-day gathering that started Wednesday, bringing together tribal leaders, the president, cabinet officers and other senior officials to discuss the most pressing issues facing indigenous communities.
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According to a 2021 report by the Brookings Institution, Native American voters were a factor in Biden’s close victories in Arizona and Wisconsin.
“We’ve made progress, but we know indigenous communities still live in the shadows of the failed policies of the past,” Biden said Wednesday. “That’s why I committed to working with you to write a new and better chapter in American history.”
The administration is also releasing a 2023 Progress Report for Tribal Nations, which will detail the steps taken under Biden to address those priorities. Tribal nations received $32 billion in the American Rescue Plan, $13 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and $700 million in the Inflation Reduction Act, according to the White House.
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