How you can connect with Congress about Native American Affairs

Native American affairs have been a focus of the work of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) for decades. This Quaker organization, based in Washington, D.C., works in many different ways to get legislation related to peace, justice and Native American issues written and approved. FCNL has lobbyists, but also is very effective in making it possible for anyone to give a voice to their concerns.

FCNL’s Congressional Advocate for the Native American Policy Program is Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco (Shinnecock/Kiowa). She sends a monthly update to those who subscribe to the Native American Legislative Update (NALU), and the following is from this month’s update. You are encouraged to subscribe, and can do so here.

One of the most useful tools helps us send letters to our Congressional representatives, such as the one below about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. When you click on this link  you will be taken to a web page that has the following information about this act, including the bill number. You can easily modify the letter. Based upon the address you enter on that page, your letter will be sent to your Representative or Senator.

Ask Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

Please support H.R.6545 to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Native American women face disproportionately high rates of violence. Most of these violent acts involve non-Indians. Prior to the reauthorization of VAWA in 2013, tribal courts did not have jurisdiction over non-Indians. The Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction returned this jurisdiction, but it offers limited protections.

The Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction is only for domestic violence involving non-Native perpetrators. It does not give tribes jurisdiction over crimes involving sexual assault, stalking, sex trafficking. It also does not protect children who are often victims of domestic violence and abuse.

H.R.6545 expands tribal jurisdiction to include sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, child violence and violence against tribal law enforcement attempting to execute these provisions. This bill also improves the coordination and collaboration between tribal, local, and federal jurisdictions in response to cases of missing or murdered Natives. It will also improve tribal access to federal databases for Missing cases. These provisions are huge steps forward to protecting Indian Country’s most vulnerable.

Please support the tribal provisions in H.R. 6545 to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and cosponsor this bill. Tribes need the jurisdictional authority to protect their people from all forms of violence.

The monthly Native American Legislative Update includes information about relevant bills and ways for you to contact your representatives about them. This month, for example, besides the link to the letter above, updates of the status of the bill is provided:

FCNL October bill tracker

What We’re Reading:

  • A recent court hearing found that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 illegally gives Native American families preferential treatment based on race in adoption proceedings for Native American children.
  • The Supreme Court declined to overturn North Dakota’s controversial voter ID law, which requires residents to show identification with a current street address. A P.O. box does not qualify. Many residents on Native American reservations, however, do not have street addresses.

Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco
Congressional Advocate Native American Policy Program



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