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).
Native Americans Swing Key States and Elect Record Number of Indigenous Representatives
Despite extreme challenges to both in-person and mail-in voting on reservations, Native people were crucial to the 2020 elections. With votes for Biden reaching as high as 98% in certain majority Native precincts, the Native vote can be credited with helping to flip swing states like Arizona and Wisconsin.
A record six Native candidates have also been elected to Congress. Reps. Tom Cole (OK-4), Deb Haaland (NM-1), Markwayne Mullin (OK-2), and Sharice Davids (KS-3) won re-election. Newly elected to the House were Kaiali’i Kahele (HI-1), who is Native Hawaiian, and Yvette Herrell (NM-2), a member of the Cherokee Nation.
In October, the Biden-Harris campaign released their plan for Tribal Nations, which includes strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship with tribes, restoring tribal lands, addressing climate change, reauthorizing the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act with provisions that would expand the list of covered crimes over which tribes can exercise jurisdiction.
Rep. Haaland Receives First-Ever FCNL Justice Award
During this year’s Annual Meeting, FCNL honored Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-1) with our first-ever Justice Award for her work to end the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Rep. Haaland, who is Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, was celebrated for her “outstanding leadership in advancing social justice, unapologetically recognizing the dignity of all people.”
During her remarks, Rep. Haaland spoke about her work on the Not Invisible Act (P.L. 116-166), which was signed into law on Oct. 10. The law will improve coordination among federal agencies and develop protocols for responding to cases of missing or murdered Native Americans. Gunalchéesh (“Thank you” in Tlingit) to Rep. Haaland for her dedication and leadership in Indian Country.
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 Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 And Other Extensions Act (P.L. 116-159).
What We’re Reading
- The BBC recently aired a documentary titled “Missing and Murdered: America’s Forgotten Native Girls” which I was featured in.
- Election results show it is crucial to understand the Indigenous vote if we want to understand American politics.
- Native Americans played a key role in the election despite the pandemic and voter suppression.
- It is time we re-examine the Thanksgiving myth.