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Native American Legislative Update

October 2018

By Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco , October 17, 2018


Welcome to FCNL's Native American Legislative Update! The NALU is a monthly newsletter about FCNL's Native American policy advocacy and ways for you to engage your members of Congress. FCNL's Congressional Advocate for Native American policy is Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco (Shinnecock/Kiowa).

Voter ID Laws

Monthly action:

Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act with increased protections for Native women.

Act Now 

“Take a left at the fork. Look for the 7th dirt driveway on the right. Our house is the white house with the green truck in front.”

I grew up on a small reservation on Long Island, N.Y. Like many people living on reservations, we do not have street addresses. While we do have street names and road signs, there are no numbers on the houses. To find one of our homes, we give instructions like the ones above. Living on a family allotment where several households are located down the same driveway makes navigating a reservation even more complicated.

Since we don’t have “residential addresses,” families on the reservation are given P.O. boxes. To receive services that require a street address, one would have to use an off-reservation work address. Our state identification card lists only a P.O. box number and sometimes the name of the street you live on. Same goes for a tribal ID.

Federally-recognized tribal IDs are valid forms of identification. They are accepted by the Transportation Security Administration and as documentation for I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

Native voters at the polls.

Lindsay D'Addato/WyoFile

Voter ID laws, like the one in North Dakota, require a valid ID with a residential address on it. Requiring a residential address prevents tribal communities from voting. Despite this, the Supreme Court declined to view North Dakota’s ID law this week. With less than a month before elections, local tribes are scrambling to provide resources for their members to make voting possible

The Senate recently introduced the Native Voting Rights Act (S.3543). This bill would make a tribal ID a valid form of identification for voting or registering to vote, regardless of a residential address. Additionally, this bill will make voting more accessible to rural communities by designating polling locations on tribal lands. Congress only has a few weeks left in its current session. It remains to be seen whether the Native Voting Rights Act will move forward before the 115th Congressional term ends.

Violence Against Women Act Extended

The Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 6545) was extended to Dec. 7. The last authorization gave tribes jurisdiction over non-Indians but only in cases of intimate partner violence. Now is the time to urge Congress to recognize tribal jurisdiction over crimes of sexual assault, stalking, sex trafficking, and child abuse.

Join me at FCNL's Annual Meeting and Quaker Public Policy Institute

As FCNL celebrates its 75th year, Quakers and friends will gather in Washington, D.C. (Nov. 28-Dec. 2, 2018) for four days of community, celebration, and advocacy on Capitol Hill. I will be discussing Native rights at our Lunch with a Lobbyist. I would love to see you there.

Bill Tracker

Reauthorization of the Violence Aganst Women Act (H.R. 6545):

Continues to gain momentum with more than 170 cosponsors.


What We're Reading:

  • A recent court hearing found that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 illegally gives Native American families preferential treatment based on race in adoption proceedings for Native American children.

  • The Supreme Court declined to overturn North Dakota's controversial voter ID law, which requires residents to show identification with a current street address. A P.O. box does not qualify. Many residents on Native American reservations, however, do not have street addresses.

  • A record number of Native women candidates are running for office this year. They have formed a strong network “Standing Shoulder to Shoulder.”

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Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco

  • Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program

Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco manages the Native American Advocacy program lobbying on legislation that affects Native communities. She builds connections between tribes, tribal organizations, and non-Indian allies, particularly among a wide range of faith groups, to ensure tribal needs are addressed.