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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.

Rachel Overstreet Joins FCNL

FCNL is pleased to announce that effective May 28, Rachel Overstreet (Choctaw Nation), will join FCNL full-time as legislative representative for Native American advocacy! We are excited for her to join as a permanent lead lobbyist as our program evolves from the temporary congressional advocate model.

Overstreet was a 2022-2023 Advocacy Corps organizer focused on the Truth and Healing Commission bills and a contractor with FCNL’s Native American advocacy program. She joins FCNL with a deep appreciation for faith-based, strategic advocacy carried out in solidarity with impacted communities.

Cindy Darcy will remain with FCNL as a Native American policy consultant.

Secretary Haaland Testifies on FY 2025 Budget Request

Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland testified this month about the president’s FY 2025 budget request before the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior and Environment.

Haaland requested funding for two tribal priorities that FCNL has been tracking and supporting:

Funding the Department of the Interior’s Federal Boarding School Initiative at a continued level of $7 million.
Maintaining $16.6 million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Tribal Public Safety Initiative.

Haaland also spoke about the 12-part “Road to Healing” tour that concluded in 2023. This year-long listening initiative sought to “allow survivors of the Federal Indian boarding school system the opportunity to share their stories and help connect communities with trauma-informed support.”

The secretary shared that the loss of Native languages in Indigenous communities was a core tribal concern learned through this endeavor. To address those concerns, President Joe Biden’s FY 25 budget requests $18 million, an increase of $11.5 million from last fiscal year, to expand Native language revitalization programs.

Truth and Healing Commission Bill Gains House Sponsors

Legislation to address the harms of the federal government’s Indian boarding school policies has gained several co-sponsors in recent weeks. Seven of these lawmakers joined after visits with FCNL constituents during Spring Lobby Weekend in March, including Representatives Mary Sattler Peltola (AK-At large), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6).

Seven lawmakers joined the Truth and Healing bill after visits with FCNL constituents during Spring Lobby Weekend.

The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (H.R. 7227) was reintroduced in February by Representatives Sharice Davids (KS-03) and Tom Cole (OK-04). This legislative priority for FCNL would establish a formal federal commission to investigate, document, and acknowledge past injustices of Indian boarding school policies and make recommendations to Congress to address them.

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

President Biden signed legislation to place 17 acres of land in Pierce County, Washington into trust to be made a part of the reservation of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians (Public Law 118-48). Placing land into trust allows the Department of the Interior to hold land and its title for the benefit of a tribe.

As Councilwoman for the Puyallup Tribe Annette Bryan shared during the Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing last May, “by adding this land to the [Port of Tacoma], the tribe is well-positioned to develop a 21st century shipping terminal and become the first international tribal center in modern times.”

Land in the current city of Tacoma is within the Tribe’s historic reservation established pursuant to the 1854 Medicine Creek Treaty.

Bill Tracker

Bridging Agency Data Gaps and Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act (S. 465)

On May 1, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the Bridging Agency Data Gaps and Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act (S. 465). This legislation, which FCNL has previously supported, would revise federal policies and procedures related to information sharing, reporting, and investigating cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

The bill would also require the Department of Justice to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that federal training resources and culturally appropriate mental health and wellness programs are available to tribal and BIA law enforcement officers experiencing occupational stress.


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.