As 2020 comes to an end, it is important that we take stock of the work we have done, and look ahead to what must be accomplished with a new Congress in 2021.
The Native American Legislative Update is a monthly newsletter on the most important developments on Capitol Hill related to Indian Country.
Despite extreme challenges to both in-person and mail-in voting on reservations, Native people were crucial to the 2020 elections.
President Trump signed Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act into law on Oct. 10, following last month’s passage of the two bills in the House. The bills will establish uniform law enforcement protocols and data collection standards in cases of missing and murdered Native Americans. They would also improve coordination between federal agencies and law enforcement in responding to these cases.
In a huge victory for Indian Country, both Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act passed in the House on Sept. 21. The bills, which already passed the Senate by unanimous consent in March, will help to address the rising numbers of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. Both bills will now go to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing funding for domestic violence shelters and services. FVPSA is especially vital for Indian Country, as it is the primary source of funding for these services in tribal communities. Shelters, training and technical assistance, emergency response hotlines, and children’s services are all supported by this law.
In a landmark decision handed down on July 9, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that treaty rights designate most of eastern Oklahoma as reservation land. Because these lands were never ceded to the U.S. government, they fall under the definition of “Indian Country” under U.S. law.
On June 5, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Bernhardt. The court ordered the Trump administration to reconsider a 2018 decision to take the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s land out of trust.
Congress and the administration designated May 5 as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. To commemorate the day, organizations and advocates hosted virtual events to bring awareness to domestic and sexual violence in Indian Country. This crisis has worsened in recent weeks due to the stay-at-home orders established by many tribes and states in response to the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a dangerous situation for those sheltering at home with an abuser. This problem is especially pronounced in Indian Country, where housing is limited and often overcrowded. Due to limited funding, many shelters and victim services programs are struggling to stay open.
Welcome to FCNL’s Native American Legislative Update! The NALU is a monthly newsletter about FCNL’s Native American policy advocacy and ways for you to engage your members of Congress. FCNL’s Congressional Advocate for Native American policy is Kerri Colfer (Tlingit).
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