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Native American Legislative Update

June 2019

By Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco , July 1, 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).

New Legislation for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

On June 19, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs heard testimony on five bills regarding the public safety of Native American communities.

These five stand-alone bills address many of the tribal provisions that were outlined in H.R. 1585, the 2019 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). They are: Savanna’s Act (S.227), Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act (S. 288), Native Youth and Tribal Officers Protection Act (S. 290), Not Invisible Act of 2019 (S. 982), and BADGES for Native Communities (S. 1853).

These bills address the lack of jurisdiction given to tribal authorities, as well as the threats to Native American public safety posed by non-Native perpetrators of violence.

Hon. Michelle Demmert testifies at Senate Indian Affairs Hearing testifying. June 19, 2019.

Hon. Michelle Demmert testifies at Senate Legislative Hearing on S. 227, S. 288, S. 290, S. 982 & S. 1853. June 19, 2019. U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

During the hearing, Sen. Steve Daines (MT) announced plans to introduce two new bills on the Senate floor: the Finding and Investigating Native Disappearance Act (FIND) (S. 1893) and the Tribal Reporting and Accountability to Congress Act (TRAC) (S.1892). Both bills relate to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Strong Funding Increases for Native Programs

The House fiscal year 2020 spending bills included many wins for tribal programming with overall increases in funding. The Indian Health Services received $6.34 billion, a funding increase of more than $500 million. Construction for health care facilities was allotted $304.2 million, a $60.8 million increase from last year. In addition, the Urban Indian Health programs were funded at $81 million—a $30 million increase.

A five percent set-aside of the Crime Victims Fund was also included, totaling $142 million for tribes. The Crime Victims Fund provides grants for victim services such as mental health services, victims advocacy, and cultural healing practices. One spending bill included an amendment from Reps. Gwen Moore (WI-04), Sharice Davids (KS-03), and Deb Haaland (NM-01) that would increase funding to the Office on Violence Against Women. The $10 million increase will enable tribal governments to exercise jurisdiction over domestic violence cases and is crucial for the protection of Native victims of violence.

Our work now turns to the Senate, which will craft its own version of these spending bills.

Bill Tracker

Savanna’s Act (S. 227/H.R. 2733):

On June 19, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs received testimony on Savanna’s Act and other bills related to safety in Indian Country.

SURVIVE Act (S. 211/ H.R. 1351):

Awaits full consideration in the Senate.

What We're Reading:


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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.