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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 Continues Focus on Missing and Murdered Indigenous People

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous People crisis is ongoing and urgently needs attention from the federal government. During the May hearings of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, hundreds of tribal elected leaders and representatives of Native organizations testified about the need for additional resources for tribal law enforcement. Rep. Mike Simpson (ID-2), the subcommittee chair, said that he plans to hold a hearing specifically on this issue later this year.

During earlier fiscal year 2025 congressional budget hearings, Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland and other federal officials requested continued funding of $16.6 million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Tribal Public Safety Initiative. The bureau’s Missing and Murdered Unit works with the FBI and other federal agencies to strengthen investigations by identifying gaps in information sharing and data collection.

On May 1, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Bridging Agency Data Gaps and Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act (S. 465). The bill would revise federal policies and procedures related to information sharing, reporting, and investigating cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The committee chair, Sen. Brian Schatz (HI) stressed that the bill is non-controversial and a “big deal” for providing solutions. Sen. Schatz hopes the committee will mark up the bill.

Additionally, the Senate passed a resolution (S. Res. 674) designating May 5, 2024, as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. Senator Steve Daines (MT) and 26 other senators introduced the resolution. As in previous years when similar resolutions passed, the week was a time of nationwide action and awareness about the crisis.

Truth and Healing Commission Bills Continue to Gain Cosponsors

The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act (H.R. 7227/S. 1723), which addresses the harms of the federal government’s Indian boarding school policies, continues to gain cosponsors in Congress. There are 32 cosponsors in the Senate and 52 cosponsors in the House. Several of these lawmakers sponsored after visits with FCNL constituents during our Spring Lobby Weekend in March.

This legislation is a priority for FCNL. It would establish a formal federal commission to investigate, document, and acknowledge past injustices of Indian boarding school policies. It would make recommendations to Congress to address them.

Bill Tracker

Older Americans Act (Public Law 89-73) and the Native Elders’ Longevity, Dignity, Empowerment, and Respect (ELDER) Act (S. 4273):

The Older Americans Act — legislation focused on support and services for older populations —is set to expire September 30, 2024, and is before committees now. The bill addresses a broad range of nutrition, social, economic, and health services and programs for older adults. This includes people with disabilities, family caregivers, and those living in nursing homes.

On May 7, Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Tina Smith (MN) introduced the ELDER Act (S. 4273) which seeks to improve federal programs and services for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian elders. The bill includes funding for accessible home modifications, in-home services and caregiver support. The senators hope that Congress will include the bill’s provisions in reauthorization of the broader Older Americans Act.

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.