While I’ve been writing about my adventures during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, I’ve been thinking about ways Quakers support Native Americans. The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), our Quaker lobbying organization, has made advocacy for Native Americans a priority for decades.
“Since 1976, FCNL’s Native American advocacy program has worked to restore and improve U.S. relations with Native nations so that our country honors the promises made in hundreds of treaties with these groups. FCNL provides information to Congressional offices and to national faith groups about the continuing struggles of Native people and advocates in support the resilient and inventive solutions proposed by tribal governments and Native American organizations.
This work takes us into all of the issue areas encountered by any government: land and borders; environment, energy, and natural resources; economic development; care for the safety and well-being of tribal citizens; and investment in the future through health and education.” Witnessing in Solidarity with the First Americans
“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.
Lacina is a proud member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation of New York and the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma.” https://www.fcnl.org/people/lacina-tangnaqudo-onco
You can sign up for the informative monthly newsletter about Native issues here: Sign up for FCNL’s legislative updates about Native issues
FCNL’s offices are just across the street from the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC. FCNL lobbyists and Quakers who come to Washington visit Congressional representatives and their staff’s to discuss legislative issues and concerns.
More recently FCNL has been working with Quaker meetings to build relationships at their local Congressional district offices. It is highly effective to establish these personal relationships. Several Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Quakers have been visiting their local Congressional offices for years.
My Quaker meeting, Bear Creek Friends, is beginning to explore how we can build a Quaker advocacy team, to develop deeper relationships with our local Congressional offices. The first topic we plan to work on is support for the SURVIVE Act.
According to federal data, American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities face some of the highest victimization rates in the country. Unfortunately, less than 0.7% of the Crime Victim’s Fund (CVF) established by the Victims of Crime Act reaches Indian tribes. This important funding provides victim services including crisis intervention, emergency shelter, medical costs, and counseling.
Currently, VOCA does not incorporate tribal governments for victim assistance and victim compensation formula grant programs. If we want to tackle the unacceptable disparities facing these communities, we need to make sure victims have equitable access to the critical resources VOCA funds support.
That is why I have introduced the bipartisan Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act. This bill would create a tribal grant program within the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime and require a 5% allocation from the CVF be provided to Indian tribes. It would expand the use of CVF funds for domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling, legal assistance and services, and child and elder abuse programs to enable tribes to deliver critical services to their communities. Tom O’Halleran, Member of Congress
Supporting the SURVIVE Act is a natural extension of Bear Creek Friends’ involvement in the local annual Native American celebration Prairie Awakening/Prairie Awoke for more than a decade.