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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.

Celebrating a Successful Spring Lobby Weekend

More than 300 young adults joined us for Spring Lobby Weekend, March 16-19, to advocate for the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools Policies Act (S. 1723/H.R. 7227). This bill would create the first formal federal commission to investigate the atrocities during the Indian Boarding School Era and commit to truth-telling and healing processes for Indigenous Peoples.

We are grateful to have partnered with The National Native American Boarding Schools Healing Coalition, the National Congress of American Indians, Native American communities, and faith groups for the event.

Advocates met with over 100 Congressional offices and secured two new cosponsors – Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY-12) and Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20). More offices have expressed an interest in joining the bill! We applaud the powerful voices of our young advocates. You can see pictures from the event on FCNL’s social media: @quakerlobby on both Instagram and our newly launched TikTok account.

Young advocates hold up signs for Truth and Healing at Spring Lobby Weekend 2024.

Funding for Important Indian Country Programs Continues for FY24

In early March, Congress passed an FY 2024 appropriations package (Public Law 118-42) that included funding for important Indian Country programs. Three noteworthy mentions:

  • The Department of the Interior’s Federal Boarding School Initiative led by Secretary Deb Haaland received $7 million, the same as the previous fiscal year. The department is finalizing the second volume of its investigative report, informed partly by testimonies from Indian Boarding School survivors, descendants, and their family members as part of a “Road to Healing” tour to tribal communities.
  • The appropriations package extends several vital public health programs including the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI). SDPI has successfully decreased diabetes prevalence and mortality among American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Tribal Public Safety Initiative maintained its $16.6 million level from FY23.

Federal Agencies Respond to “Not One More” Report of the Not Invisible Act Commission 

On March 5, the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a joint response to the findings and recommendations of the Not Invisible Act Commission. The commission’s final report, “Not One More,” called on the federal government to declare a “Decade of Action and Healing” to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) for future generations.

The DOI and DOJ addressed key areas of concern such as the need to improve law enforcement and investigative resources, data collection and reporting, and resources and services for family members of people who have gone missing or been murdered.

FCNL advocated for the passage of the Not Invisible Act (Public Law 116-166) during the 116th Congress. We commend the commission and the DOI and DOJ for continuing to prioritize the MMIP crisis.

Bill Tracker

Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act (H.R. 7102)

The House passed this bill 402-16 on Feb. 29 to codify the Office of Native American Affairs within the Small Business Administration. This office has been providing entrepreneurial development, lending, and procurement programs to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians for decades. H.R. 7102 is now on the Senate calendar and awaiting consideration.

Parity for Tribal Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 4524)

On March 12, the House Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation to amend the Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act (Public Law 101-379) to authorize tribal law enforcement officers to be considered federal law enforcement officers. This would allow eligible tribal officers to enforce federal law and qualify for some of the same retirement benefits as other federal law enforcement officers.

Bill for Management of Buffalo on Tribal Land (H.R. 6368)

Also on March 12, the House Natural Resources Committee advanced legislation to assist tribal governments and organizations to reestablish buffalo populations on Indian land.

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.