Despite proposing sharp cuts to many federal agencies, House appropriators protected funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Indian Health Service. Lawmakers expressed their commitment to upholding and honoring federal treaty obligations and trust responsibility to tribal nations.
Congress and the Biden administration’s abusive immigration enforcement decisions can have a profound impact on Native communities. There are 151 federally recognized tribes that have a presence in a southern border state. The U.S.-Mexico border wall affects at least 29 Indigenous communities, including the Kumeyaay Nation and Tohono O’odham.
Throughout 2023, lawmakers have introduced bills, held hearings, and marked up legislation impacting Native communities. Several bills are now ready for House or Senate floor consideration. Here’s a look at a few of the bills that are being advanced by House or Senate committees.
This summer, the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, the Office of Environmental Justice, and the Office of Tribal Justice held a regional summit for tribal leaders in Spokane, WA. These gatherings aim to fulfill the commitment outlined in the department’s Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy.
On June 28, the commission created under the Not Invisible Act of 2019 held a hearing in Albuquerque, NM, to receive testimony on the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP).
In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a significant victory for Native American rights when it upheld critical provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Congress enacted ICWA 45 years ago to rectify decades of government-enforced removal of Native children from their families in a deliberate effort to erase their cultural identity and tribal citizenship. FCNL helped draft and advocate for the passage of ICWA in 1978.
On May 18, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and others re-introduced a bipartisan bill to establish the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States to the Senate (S. 1723).
For lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the spring session is focused heavily on the president’s budget request for the upcoming fiscal year.
On March 20, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Arizona v. Navajo Nation, a water and treaty rights dispute over the Colorado River. More than 20 years of drought have left the Southwest in a water crisis. This includes the Navajo Nation, where 30% of citizens have no running water.
On Feb. 21, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Fawn Sharp delivered the annual State of Indian Nations Address at the 2023 NCAI Executive Council winter session.
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