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).
Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act Pass the House
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.
Savanna’s Act (S.227) will establish better law enforcement practices by requiring federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to develop protocols for cases of missing or murdered Native Americans. The bill also provides training and technical assistance for implementing these new guidelines, and authorizes the Department of Justice to provide grants for compiling and annually reporting data related to missing and murdered Native Americans.
The Not Invisible Act (S. 982) requires the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to create a joint advisory committee on violence against American Indians and Alaska Natives. The committee, which will be made up of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, and survivors of domestic and sexual violence, will make recommendations to the DOI and DOJ to combat crime against Native Americans.
The passage of these bills in both chambers is an especially sweet victory for FCNL and tribal advocates. FCNL first began working on a similar version of Savanna’s Act when it was introduced in October 2017 in the 115th Congress by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND).
Want to learn more about these victories and what comes next? Register to join me and Diane Randall for the Thursdays with Friends discussion on Oct. 1 at 4:00 p.m. EDT.
NCAI Hosts Tribal Unity Impact Days
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) hosted its annual Tribal Unity Impact Days virtually on Sept. 16 and 17. The event featured roundtable conversations between tribal leaders and members of Congress to discuss the most pressing issues in Indian Country. Among the topics discussed were COVID-19 pandemic relief for tribes, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with strong tribal provisions, and the lack of access to broadband in tribal communities.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Indigenous Peoples’ Day Webinar
On October 14 at 1:00 p.m. EDT, FCNL will be organizing and moderating a webinar with the Interfaith Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence on legislative solutions to the crisis of violence in Indian Country. The webinar is part of a four-part series on how racism and misogyny impact survivors’ ability to seek safety and justice.
Our panel will feature speakers from the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center. Register here.
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 House.
Special Diabetes Program for Indians:
Extended through Nov. 30, 2020 in CARES Act, and through Dec. 11, 2020 in House-passed Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 And Other Extensions Act (H.R. 8337).
What We’re Reading
- Indigenous groups continue to protest border wall construction at the Arizona-Mexico border.
- Indian Country stands united against attempts to undermine tribal sovereignty in the wake of Supreme Court decision.
- The first Native American woman to become a federal judge reflects on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy, and how her understanding of tribal sovereignty deepened in her later work.
- COVID-19 pandemic relief has too many strings attached, preventing tribes from spending the money on much-needed supplies and infrastructure.
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) bills pass in the House and head to the president’s desk.