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Native American Legislative Update

April 2020

By Kerri Colfer, April 27, 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).

Victim Services Must be Prioritized in the Next COVID-19 Stimulus Package

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a dangerous situation for those sheltering at home with an abuser. This problem is especially pronounced in Indian Country, where housing is limited and often overcrowded. Due to limited funding, many shelters and victim services programs are struggling to stay open.

The CARES Act (H.R. 748) included funding to address domestic violence. But it did not include any funding for Department of Justice programs, including those authorized under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Sens. Bob Casey (PA), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Amy Klobuchar (MN), along with 38 other senators from both parties, sent letters to Senate leadership requesting that the next COVID-19 relief package include more support for domestic violence and sexual assault-related programs. Specifically, the senators requested additional funding through the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, including a tribal set-aside.

FCNL Denounces Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation Disestablishment

On March 27, the Department of the Interior revoked the reservation status of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts. FCNL released a statement denouncing these actions and urging Congress to pass a clean Carcieri fix (H.R. 375/S. 2808). It would protect tribal trust lands like the Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation. FCNL also called on legislators to restore the status of the reservation by passing the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (H.R. 312).

Learn How to Lobby on the Violence Against Women Act

May 5 is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused rates of violence in Indian Country to spike and has prevented victims and survivors from seeking necessary help. To take action to end this crisis, please join us for a virtual lobby training on the Violence Against Women Act. Register here.

Documentary Screening: “A Broken Trust: Sexual Assault and Justice on Tribal Lands”

On April 16, FCNL and Amnesty International hosted a virtual screening of “A Broken Trust,” which highlights the jurisdictional challenges faced by tribal law enforcement and courts when seeking justice for sexual assault survivors in Indian Country. Watch the documentary here.

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).

Savanna’s Act (H.R. 2733/S. 227) and Not Invisible Act (H.R. 2438/S. 982):

Passed in the Senate and advanced in House.

Extended through Nov. 30, 2020.

Stories From and About Indian Country:

A team from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District conduct site assessments of potential alternate care facilities April 6 in Apache County, Arizona, in response to COVID-19. The Corps is assisting Navajo Nation, the state and FEMA’s efforts with initial site assessments for alternate care facilities.

A team asseses an alternative care facility in Apache County, AZ. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with the Navajo Nation, which has been hard hit by the cornonavirus. Los Angeles District USACE


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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.