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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.

Congress Advances Tribal Bills

Throughout 2023, lawmakers have introduced and reintroduced tribal bills, held hearings, and marked up legislation impacting Native communities. Several bills are now ready for House or Senate floor consideration.

Let’s take a look at a few of the bills that are being advanced by House or Senate committees.

Disrupting Cycles of Abuse: On Sept. 20, the House passed the Native American Child Protection Act (H.R. 663). This legislation would reauthorize and make amendments to the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act (Public Law Number 101-630). It supports funding to tribal governments and tribal organizations for the prevention, investigation, treatment, and prosecution of family violence, child abuse, and child neglect involving Indian children and families.

Preserving History: On Sept. 18, the House passed the Wounded Knee Sacred Site and Memorial Land Act (H.R. 3371). The bill would direct the secretary of the interior to complete all actions necessary to preserve a section of the land where hundreds of Lakota people were massacred by the U.S. Army in 1890.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Senate companion bill, S. 2088, in July.

Critical Housing Assistance: We are hopeful that tribal housing policy could be attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2670 and S. 2226) this fall. This annual defense policy bill has been traditionally considered “must pass” legislation.

The Senate version currently includes an amendment that would reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (Public Law Number 104-330). This critical program has not been reauthorized since 2013, leaving it vulnerable to potential cuts in Congress’s annual appropriations process. The act, which the amendment would extend through FY2030, provides affordable housing-related opportunities for low-income families residing on reservations and in other tribal areas.

As Shutdown Looms, Congress Must Reauthorize Critical Safety Net Programs  

Congress has just a handful of working days remaining to pass legislation to fund the government or face a partial shutdown when FY2024 starts on Oct. 1.

In addition to continuing annual funding for federal programs, a number of statute reauthorizations and program extensions must be included in legislation to fund the government. These includes several programs that impact tribal citizens including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI), and other critical safety net programs.

Observe Orange Shirt Day

Sept. 30 marks the National Day of Remembrance for Indian Boarding Schools, an Indigenous-led grassroots effort to raise awareness of the far-reaching intergenerational impacts of the boarding school era

This commemorative day, also known as Orange Shirt Day, honors survivors and the children who never returned home from Indian boarding schools, their families, and their communities.

Seeking to right relationships in the wake of generational oppression and cultural genocide is a great concern of the FCNL network and many Friends. FCNL members have written thousands of letters in support of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 1723), and our 2022-2023 Advocacy Corps cohort lobbied in support of the Truth and Healing bill. Their efforts produced 56 lobby visits by 107 constituents, 27 media engagements, and the coordination of several community events.

What We’re Reading

Cindy Darcy

Cindy Darcy

Consultant, Native American Policy

Cindy Darcy’s 40-plus years serving as an advocate for American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments in the public policy arena began at FCNL.