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Native American Legislative Update

July 2019

By Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco , July 23, 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).

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Stalled in Senate

Tell Congress:

Reauthorize VAWA with increased protections for Native women.

Act Now 

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is stalled in the Senate.

In early April, the House passed the reauthorization bill (H.R. 1585) with strong tribal provisions. Roughly 30 House Republicans voted for the bill. Despite this, some Senate Republicans have taken issue with the tribal provisions, which they deem controversial.

At issue is the restoration of tribal jurisdiction over non-Native Americans, which the House bill expanded to include sexual assault, child abuse, sex trafficking, and assaulting a tribal officer. The opposition to expanded tribal jurisdiction could prevent the introduction of a Senate companion bill.

As we push for a reauthorization of VAWA, it’s important to remember that while the 2013 version of the bill was an excellent first step toward recognizing tribal sovereignty, and improving public safety in Indian Country, it alone does not offer adequate protection. The Senate must introduce a bill that is similar to the House version and pass it as soon as possible. Negotiations are currently underway in the Senate, so now is the time to push for a reauthorization that includes the same tribal provisions as H.R. 1585.

Deborah Parker, Vice Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes with Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute Students. (June 25, 2012 )

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)/Flickr

What You Can Do This August Recess

Congress will be out on recess in August. Visit your senators’ district offices in August and encourage them to advance the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

The Urgency of Extending the Special Diabetes Program for Indians

On July 10, the Senate Aging Committee held a hearing on the Special Diabetes Program (SDP). In her opening remarks, Chairwoman Susan Collins (ME) gave a nod to the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI), an indigenous-specific program.

SDPI funds more than 300 Indian healthcare facilities and provides effective diabetes prevention, treatment, and health education services. It has proven to be an effective model for diabetes treatment and has bipartisan support due to its positive results and cost savings.

Sen. Collins emphasized the importance of SDPI, saying that it needs to be extended before funding expires in September. With the SDPI’s expiration just around the corner, we urge you to tell Congress to reauthorize and increase funding to better serve the health needs of Native communities.

Bill Tracker

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 1585):

Currently being negotiated in the Senate and awaiting introduction.

What We're Reading:

Thank you Nurah!

Nurah Jaradat

FCNL wants to sincerely thank Nurah Jaradat for all their accomplishments as the Summer Intern for the Native American Program, including drafting this edition of NALU.

Thank you, Nurah, for all of your passion and dedication to lobbying on Native American policy!


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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.