Welcome to FCNL’s Native American Legislative Update! NALU is a monthly newsletter about FCNL’s Native American policy advocacy and ways for you to engage members of Congress.
Indian Country Highlights from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021
Indian Country was impacted greatly on Dec. 27, 2020, when the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (H.R. 133) was signed into law. Tribal provisions were included in the $2.3 trillion spending package of 12 annual appropriations bills, and further funding for tribal communities was included in the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package.
Within the bill’s Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations, 5% of the $2.015 billion provided for the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) will be available to tribes for programs to help Native American victims of crime.
In addition, within the $513.5 million provided for grant programs of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), $4 million is set aside for assistance to tribes for Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (SDVCJ), $1 million for research and analysis on violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women, and $500,000 for the National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault.
The bill also authorizes the use of $1 billion to support broadband connectivity on tribal lands, including telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion.
Special Diabetes Program for Indians Receives Long-Term Extension
In addition to the provisions mentioned above, the FY 2021 spending bill also extended the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) until the end of FY 2023 at current funding levels.
SDPI continues to be one of the most successful health initiatives for Indian Country, with diabetes rates in Native communities decreasing consistently over the last 4 years. The program provides culturally appropriate resources and community-driven strategies to treat and prevent diabetes within tribal lands and urban areas.
We are excited to finally see a long-term reauthorization of this program. However, we will continue to advocate for an increase in SDPI funding to $200 million annually. The program is currently funded at $150 million annually, the same yearly rate it has received since 2004.
Biden Halts Construction of Keystone XL Pipeline, Oil and Gas Leasing in the Arctic
Among the executive orders issued by President Joe Biden on Jan. 20, one revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and temporarily halted oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
The halting of the Keystone XL pipeline, which encroaches on tribal lands in South Dakota, was applauded by both tribal advocates and environmentalists. They see this move as a sign that the Biden administration will take an active role in addressing climate change and strengthening the federal government’s nation-to-nation relationship with tribes.
Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019:
Passed in the House (H.R. 1585) and two versions were introduced in the Senate (S. 2920 and S. 2843) in the 116th Congress. The bill awaits re-introduction in the 117th Congress.
Special Diabetes Program for Indians:
Extended through FY2023.
What We’re Reading and Watching
- Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-1) says addressing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women would be one of her highest priorities if confirmed as secretary of the interior.
- Tribal elders are dying from the pandemic, causing a cultural crisis for Native communities.
- Questions of criminal jurisdiction still loom over Oklahoma tribes in the aftermath of the McGirt Supreme Court decision.
- Over 100 years after illegally taking lands on the Flathead Reservation, the federal government returns land and management of bison to tribes.