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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).

Judge Rules in Favor of Mashpee Wampanoag

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.

In March, the Department of the Interior (DOI) used the 2018 decision to revoke the Mashpee Wampanoag’s reservation status. The June ruling orders the DOI to apply a different legal test for taking land into trust for tribes. The court also held that the Mashpee land will remain in trust pending the reconsideration of evidence. FCNL will continue to advocate for a “Clean Carcieri Fix” (H.R. 375/S. 2808), which would protect existing trust land and restore fairness to the process of placing tribal land into trust.

Tribal Reservation Pandemic Protection Act Introduced in the House

On June 11, Reps. Joe Kennedy III (MA-4) and Deb Haaland (NM-1) introduced the Tribal Reservation Pandemic Protection Act (H.R. 7173). The bill would protect tribal lands for one year by preventing the federal government from revoking the status of land in trust during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renewed Call for Domestic and Sexual Violence Funding for Indian Country

FCNL, along with several Native organizations, wrote House and Senate leaders outlining the funding needs for tribal victim services during the pandemic. The CARES Act, passed in March, included funding for domestic violence through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. But it did not include any funding for Department of Justice programs, including some authorized under the Violence Against Women Act.

Urge Congress to include funding for tribal victim services in the next COVID-19 relief package.

Bill Introduced to Reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program for Indians

Sen. Martha McSally (AZ) introduced legislation (S. 3937) on June 10 that would reauthorize funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) for five years. The bill would increase funding from $150 million to $200 million per year.

This bill is especially important now as Native Americans have the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country, making them particularly at risk during the pandemic. A five-year extension of SDPI at this increased funding level, which FCNL has long advocated for, would continue to improve the health of Native communities and reduce diabetes rates among adults.

Bill Tracker

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019:

Passed in the House (H.R. 1585), two versions introduced in the Senate (S. 2920 and S. 2843).

Savanna’s Act (H.R. 2733/S. 227) and Not Invisible Act (H.R. 2438/S. 982):

Passed in the Senate and advanced in House.

Special Diabetes Program for Indians:

Extended through Nov. 30, 2020.

What We’re Reading

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Kerri Colfer

Kerri Colfer

Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program 2019-2021
Kerri managed the Native American Advocacy Program, lobbying on legislation that affects Native communities.

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