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Native American Legislative Update

February 2019

By Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco , February 25, 2019

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).

State of Indian Nations

Monthly action:

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

Act Now 

On February 11, President Jefferson Keel of the National Congress of American Indians delivered the annual State of Indian Nations address. Every year, the State of Indian Nations highlights the visions and achievements of Indian Country while also affirming goals and priorities for the upcoming year. This year’s speech centered on strength, resiliency, and resurgence.

Indian Country is experiencing a resurgence which can be seen in the increased presence of tribal leaders and representatives in Washington, D.C. Not only did Indian Country experience a record turnout of voters during the mid-term election, there were an unprecedented number of Native candidates running in local, state, and federal elections. For the first time in history there are two Native American women in Congress! As President Keel stated, “Our success flows from the foresight and counsel of our ancestors. It’s driven by the core values and relentless spirit that have sustained our societies and cultures for millennia.”

President Keel ended his speech by calling upon allies, like FCNL, to continue working with Indian Country to help “achieve our goals for thriving cultures and communities.” Allies to Indian country must take it upon themselves to engage in tribes in a respectful manner and learn their “histories, governments, and contemporary life.”

Congressional Response

A member of Congress provides a response after the State of Indian Nations address. This year the response was given by Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01). As one of the first two Native women in Congress, she is driven to represent Indian Country by bringing the voices of Native people to Capitol Hill. She vowed to move Native communities forward by reminding folks that despite the numerous policies meant to eradicate Native people, “we are still here.”

Rep. Haaland is dedicated to bringing attention to the crisis of violence against Native women. For too long, the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women has been overlooked. The Congresswoman vows to address this epidemic by strengthening the Violence Against Women Act and building upon Savanna’s Act to ensure Native women are receiving the programmatic resources they need. She is committed to extending these resources to urban areas where Native women are particularly affected by the lack of resources, and to the families of victims.

Native American Advocacy Training - March 6, 2019

Join me for a special lobby training focused on safeguarding the health and safety of our brothers and sisters in Indian Country. Make change in your community with in-district lobbying! Watch the recording of this training from Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

Bill Tracker

Reauthorization of the Violence Aganst Women Act:

VAWA was not included in the recent omnibus spending bill. Programs remain funded at 2018 levels as we work to introduce a strong bipartisan reauthorization bill.

Savanna’s Act:

Introduced in the Senate (S. 227) and referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.


Introduced in the Senate (S. 211) and successfully voted out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

What We're Reading:

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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.