WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, led an oversight hearing titled, “Buy Native American: Federal Support for Native Business Capacity Building and Success” to hear from the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Energy and experts from Native communities on federal programs that help provide Native businesses with equitable access to capital markets. The hearing followed President Biden’s renewed commitment to “Buy American” in his State of the Union address earlier this month.
Schatz opened the hearing by highlighting the dynamic contributions of Native businesses and the ongoing issues they face.
“Native-owned enterprises power community development, create jobs, and drive innovation in diverse sectors of the economy … making them critical sustaining forces not just for their own communities, but for the entire nation,” said Chairman Schatz. “Yet, lack of access to capital and limited local infrastructure, among other unique burdens, restrict Native businesses’ full access to the marketplace. These barriers persist despite dedicated federal programs to serve Native businesses with funding, technical, and administrative assistance. This Committee has an oversight duty to study not just the how, but also the why, this inequity continues.”
The following witnesses participated in the oversight hearing:
- Wizipan Garriott, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
- Janie Hipp, General Counsel, Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
- Wahleah Johns, Director, Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, Department of Energy, Washington, D.C.
- Lexie Holden, Associate Director, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Billings, MT
- J.T. Willie, Division of Economic Development, Navajo Nation, Window Rock, AZ
- J. Kukui Maunakea-Forth, Founder and Executive Director, MA‘O Organic Farms, Wai‘anae, HI
- Gary Hennigh, City Administrator, City of King Cove, Anchorage, AK