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Native American Legislative Update

December 2018

By Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco , December 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).

Savanna’s Act Passes Senate

Support Savanna's Act

Savanna's act seeks to close the information gap to help bring justice to Native American Women.

Act Now

Good news! The Senate passed Savanna’s Act (S. 1942), a top legislative priority for FCNL.

In August 2017, Savanna LaFontaine Greywind, a Spirit Lake Dakota and Turtle Mountain Chippewa woman, went missing and was found brutally murdered by her neighbor. The 22-year-old Savanna was eight months pregnant at the time. It took 8 days from the time Savanna was reported missing for law enforcement to discover her body.

Missing and Murdered Indian Women and Girls

Missing and Murdered Indian Women and Girls Jon Labillois/KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

The crisis of missing and murdered Native American women is well-known in Indian Country, but their stories rarely make the headlines. To honor Savanna’s memory and bring awareness to this crisis, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (ND) introduced Savanna's Act. The bill increases coordination and communication between State, Federal, Tribal, and local law enforcement agencies. It improves collection of data related to missing and murdered Indians including collecting tribal affiliation and enrollment information of victims. Savanna’s act also requires the Department of Justice to include statistics on missing and murdered cases in its annual Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions report to Congress.

Savanna’s Act passed out of the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs on Nov. 14. FCNL submitted written testimony supporting Savanna’s Act and Sen. Heitkamp added our letter to the Congressional record. On Dec. 6, Savanna’s Act passed the Senate.

It is now pending passage in the House. There is still a chance that Savanna’s Act could pass this Congress and become law. Please contact your representative and ask them to pass Savanna’s Act this year!

Bill Tracker

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

Included in the continuing resolution which expires Dec. 21. It is likely that VAWA will have another short-term extension. We are still pushing for the reauthorization to include needed tribal provisions.

What We're Reading:

  • The Urban Indian Health Institute recently released their report on the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women across 71 cities.
  • The Center for Native American Youth’s 2018 State of Native Youth report focuses on how young advocates understand “the role of their generation in creating a bright and strong future for tribal communities.”
  • Native Americans notched historic electoral wins on Election Day, in a country where indigenous people were not granted the right to vote until 1924.

Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco

  • Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program

Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco managed the Native American Advocacy program from 2017-2019. In that capacity she lobbied on legislation that affects Native communities and built connections between tribes, tribal organizations, and non-Indian allies, particularly among a wide range of faith groups, to ensure tribal needs were addressed.