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.
Not Invisible Act Commission Holds Hearing in Albuquerque
On Oct. 10, 2020, the Not Invisible Act of 2019 (Public Law No. 116-166) was signed into law. The bill was the first to be introduced and passed by four Native American members of Congress.
On June 28, the commission created under this law held a hearing in Albuquerque, NM, to receive testimony on the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP). It was one of seven held this year. The purpose of these hearings is to gather testimony and formulate recommendations to enhance intergovernmental cooperation regarding violent crimes in Indian Country and offer support and resources for survivors and families of victims. The insights and data collected during these hearings will contribute to the final report that the commission will present to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Congress in October.
At the hearing, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would dedicate new resources to address this critical issue. The MMIP outreach program will permanently assign ten attorneys and coordinators to five areas in the Northwest, Southwest, Great Plains, Great Lakes, and Southeast regions of the United States. They will assist in the investigation of unresolved MMIP cases and related crimes.
At the hearing, Garland acknowledged that tribal communities have been left reeling from the crisis. “This new program mobilizes the Justice Department’s resources to combat the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons, which has shattered the lives of victims, their families, and entire Tribal communities,” Garland stated. “The Justice Department will continue to accelerate our efforts, in partnership with Tribes, to keep their communities safe and pursue justice for American Indian and Alaska Native families.”
House Bill Threatens Protections for Chaco Canyon
On July 13, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a legislative hearing on the Energy Opportunities for All Act (H.R. 4374). Reps. Eli Crane (AZ-02) and Paul Gosar (AZ-09) introduced the bill. It aims to invalidate Public Land Order No. 7923, which protects the lands surrounding the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico.
At the first White House Tribal Nations Summit of the Biden-Harris administration in 2021, President Joe Biden and Secretary Deb Haaland took significant steps to protect Chaco Canyon and the surrounding landscape. They initiated a process to enact a 20-year moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands situated within a 10-mile radius. Additionally, Secretary Haaland introduced the “Honoring Chaco Initiative” to foster regional dialogue among entities, including the Bureau of Land Management field offices, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and concerned Tribes. This initiative aims to develop a more comprehensive cultural approach to guide all land management decisions across the Greater Chaco Landscape.
Passage of H.R. 4374 could lead to irreparable harm to the Chaco Canyon and its people. Tribal citizens who would be most affected by mineral extraction say that leaving the area to avoid pollution is not an option. Leaving the land would create an unbearable loss of cultural identity and disrupt their ability to pass on cultural traditions to future generations.
Native American Child Protection Act (S. 2273)
On July 19, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a business meeting and approved eight bills. Among them was a piece of legislation called the Native American Child Protection Act (S. 2273), which was introduced on July 12 by Sens. Ben Ray Luján (NM) and Susan Collins (ME).
This is the Senate companion to H.R. 663, a bill recently approved by the House Natural Resources Committee. It would reauthorize and make amendments to the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act (Public Law No. 101-630) and its programs related to the prevention, investigation, treatment, and prosecution of family violence, child abuse, and child neglect involving Native American children and families.
What We’re Reading
- No Children’s Remains Found in Nebraska Dig Near Former Native American Boarding School
- Native Americans Argue in Court That Two Mining Projects Would Destroy Religious Sites
- Canadian Wildfires Hit Indigenous Communities Hard
- The Navajo Suffered From Nuclear Testing. Oppenheimer Doesn’t Tell Our Story
- Bison Return to Native American Lands, Revitalizing Sacred Rituals
- US Commits More Lawyers to Address Native American Disappearances And Killings