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Native American Legislative Update

February 2020

By Kerri Colfer, February 25, 2020


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 Kerri Colfer (Tlingit).

NCAI President Gives Annual State of Indian Nations Address

Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), delivered the annual State of Indian Nations Address on Feb. 10. Despite the challenges facing Indian Country, she emphasized the progress being made nationwide.

“Across this land, tribal nations are writing remarkable stories of cultural, social, political, and economic renewal,” she said. “In the face of great obstacles, we relentlessly plow forward in our eternal quest to create futures of hope, opportunity, and cultural vibrancy for our youth and those generations yet to come.”

The speech, meant to outline priorities, goals, and opportunities for Native peoples in the coming year, came at the beginning of NCAI’s annual Executive Council Winter Session. The week-long event is attended by representatives of tribal governments, members of Congress, administration officials, and Native American advocates.

Attendees discussed various topics, such as closing jurisdictional gaps in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the chronic underfunding of programs in Indian Country, the impact of climate change, and the lack of broadband access in tribal communities.

FCNL Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Violence Against Native Women

On Feb. 13, FCNL partnered with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), and several Native American organizations to hold a congressional briefing on increasing safety for Native American women.

Tara Sweeney of the U.S. Department of Interior discussed the administration's Operation Lady Justice task force. Dawn Stover, who heads the Alliance of Tribal Coalitions to End Violence, detailed their work to improve responses to the crisis of violence against Native people.

The briefing aimed to educate members of Congress on the need to provide tribes with the resources to address this epidemic of violence through the passage of VAWA.

Please urge your senators to reauthorize VAWA with provisions from the House-passed bill (H.R. 1585) that restore tribal jurisdiction.

Bill Tracker

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019:

Passed in the House (H.R. 1585), two versions introduced in the Senate (S. 2920 and S. 2843).

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Kerri Colfer

  • Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program

Kerri manages the Native American Advocacy Program, lobbying on legislation that affects Native communities.