1. Washington Newsletter

Washington Newsletter: Advocating with and for Native Americans

November 19, 2019


The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is one of a few faith-based groups that lobbies with and for Native Americans on issues affecting their communities. Through the years, FCNL has developed a credibility that enables it to provide Congress with unbiased insight and information about the issues that affect indigenous peoples in the United States.

There are currently 573 federally recognized tribes in the United States, as well as many other Native communities still fighting for recognition. Since the tribes are so culturally and geographically diverse, their needs and challenges vary greatly—but they are making strides in building a better future.

Historically, FCNL’s Native American Advocacy Program is based on consultations and building connections among these tribes, tribal organizations, and non-Native allies. For example, in the 1970s, FCNL’s Native American policy work was based largely on the results of a series of regular consultations by a group equally composed of tribal leaders and representatives of yearly meetings.

In 2017, FCNL launched the Native American Congressional Advocacy Program, which trains young advocates. The term of FCNL’s Advocating with and for Native Americans first Native American congressional advocate, Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco (Shinnecock/Kiowa), is ending, and her successor, Kerri Colfer (Tlingit), is continuing her work. Although the program continues to keep an eye on issues that FCNL worked on in the past, the program has recently focused on missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW). The main legislative vehicle for FCNL’s focus this year is the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, originally passed in 1993 with the help of FCNL and Native advocates.

You can read more of this article, and the rest of the November-December Washington Newsletter, below.

Background Advocating with and for Native Americans 

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is one of a few faith-based groups that lobbies with and for Native Americans on issues affecting their communities. Through the years, FCNL has developed a credibility that enables it to provide Congress with unbiased insight and information about the issues that affect indigenous peoples in the United States.

Update Naming the Truths 

A Quaker Reflection

Sometimes we are touched by Spirit in ways that are both tender and forceful, and we simply can’t turn away. Often, these spiritual openings come in places and times that we don’t expect.

Background Working with Native Americans to Bend the Arc of History to Justice 

FCNL’s work on Native American started soon after it established an office on Capitol Hill. The stories that arise from the decades of the work behind us are not just our stories—they are still connected to the lives of many of our relatives.

Update Making Native Voices Heard in Congress 

Working as the Congressional Advocate on Native American Policy has been an amazing opportunity. My two years with FCNL allowed me to truly understand the issues we are working on. There are only a handful of fellowships in tribal policy. The fact that this fellowship is hosted by a faith-based advocacy organization makes it truly unique.

Update No Such Thing as One Native Voice 

We asked Kerri Colfer, our new congressional advocate in the Native American advocacy program, about her background, her motivations, and how FCNL can improve going forward.