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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.

Biden Administration Recommits to Tribal Consultation and Sovereignty

On Jan. 26, President Joe Biden issued a “Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships.” The memorandum recommits to an executive order from 2000 which charges all executive departments and agencies to meaningfully consult with tribes and tribal leaders when developing policies that impact tribes. 

This includes strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship between Tribal Nations and the United States. The administration also committed to respecting tribal sovereignty and self-governance, in addition to fulfilling the federal trust obligation to Tribal Nations.

NCAI President Gives Annual State of Indian Nations Address

Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), delivered the annual State of Indian Nations Address on Feb. 22. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and racial justice facing Native people, she emphasized the opportunities for progress in Indian Country.

The speech, meant to outline priorities, goals, and opportunities for Tribal Nations in the coming year, highlighted the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on tribes. Sharp also called for a legally enforceable tribal consultation process, confirmation of Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-1) as secretary of the Interior, and a plan to address climate change. Throughout the speech, she emphasized the “unwavering strength, resilience, and ingenuity” of Native people and Tribal Nations.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) gave the annual congressional response to the State of Indian Nations address, which focused on the need for resources and systemic changes to address the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Saying Farewell

At the end of February, I will be leaving FCNL to begin a new position as the senior Native affairs advisor at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. In that role, I will continue my work to end violence against Native women.

My time at FCNL has taught me so much and I am so proud of everything we have accomplished together, including advocating for the passage of Savanna’s Act, the Not Invisible Act, and COVID-19 relief for tribes. I am sad to be leaving, but I am grateful to be able to continue working on behalf of Indian Country. It’s also inspiring to know that I have an amazing network like FCNL to continue to partner with.

FCNL is currently searching for the next congressional advocate on Native American policy, and will have one selected by May. They will continue our work on the Violence Against Women Act and our other legislative priorities. I look forward to seeing everything they will accomplish at FCNL!

In the interim, NALU will continue to be published monthly. 

Bill Tracker

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

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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.