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 Signed into Law
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.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Domestic Violence Awareness Month
In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I moderated a webinar on Oct. 14 with the Interfaith Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. The webinar featured speakers from the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, National Congress of American Indians, and the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center. To hear more about Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act, and to learn what non-Native allies can do to help end the crisis of violence against Native women, view the recording here.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) introduced a bipartisan resolution in support of October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The resolution recognizes the increased levels of domestic violence brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Native American and Alaska Native communities.
Bill Introduced to Establish Truth and Healing Commission
Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-1) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) introduced the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy in the United States Act (H.R. 8420/S.4752) on Sept. 29. The bill would establish the first formal commission in U.S. history to investigate and acknowledge the forced assimilation and cultural genocide that occurred through the federal government’s Indian Boarding School Policy.
Between 1869 and the 1960s, 83% of American Indian and Alaska Native children were removed from their families and communities and placed into Indian boarding schools. The goal of the schools was to assimilate Native people into white American society. In many instances, these schools, which were often operated by various church denominations, subjected children to physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse.
The Truth and Healing Commission would make recommendations for Congress to address the intergenerational trauma passed down as a result of these assimilation policies. It would also provide a forum for survivors to speak, and would address the current lack of inclusive and accurate representation of Native American people and history in schools.
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 (P.L. 116-165) and Not Invisible Act (P.L. 116-166):
Signed into law by the president.
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
- An advocate’s guide to supporting Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
- Portrait project memorializes missing and murdered Indigenous women in a virtual exhibit, featuring Rep. Haaland.
- The federal government underfunded healthcare for Native Americans for centuries, and now they are dying of COVID-19.
- A record number of states celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time this year, as more states shy away from observing Columbus Day.