Welcome to FCNL’s Native American Legislative Update! NALU is a monthly newsletter about FCNL’s Native American policy advocacy and ways for you to engage members of Congress.
Kerri Colfer, (Tlingit), Congressional Advocate, Native American Policy Program
When: Thursday, October 1, 4:00 PM Eastern
Featuring special guest Kerri Colfer, FCNL Congressional Advocate for Native American Policy. As we prepare to observe Indigenous People’s Day next month, Kerri will provide an update on the crisis of missing and murdered Native women and girls and opportunities to advance policy solutions in what remains of the 116th Congress.
In a huge victory for Indian Country, both Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act passed in the House on Sept. 21. The bills, which already passed the Senate by unanimous consent in March, will help to address the rising numbers of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. Both bills will now go to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
Savanna’s Act (S.227) will establish better law enforcement practices by requiring federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to develop protocols for cases of missing or murdered Native Americans. The bill also provides training and technical assistance for implementing these new guidelines, and authorizes the Department of Justice to provide grants for compiling and annually reporting data related to missing and murdered Native Americans.
The Not Invisible Act (S. 982) requires the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to create a joint advisory committee on violence against American Indians and Alaska Natives. The committee, which will be made up of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, and survivors of domestic and sexual violence, will make recommendations to the DOI and DOJ to combat crime against Native Americans.
The passage of these bills in both chambers is an especially sweet victory for FCNL and tribal advocates. FCNL first began working on a similar version of Savanna’s Act when it was introduced in October 2017 in the 115th Congress by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
Want to learn more about these victories and what comes next?
Register to join me and Diane Randall for the Thursdays with Friends discussion on Oct. 1 at 4:00 p.m. EDT.
FCNL Congratulates House on Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act Passage
By Timothy McHugh, September 22, 2020
Washington, DC – The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) applauded yesterday’s passage of both Savanna’s Act (H. R. 2733) and the Not Invisible Act of 2019 (H.R.2438) by the full House of Representatives.
Contact: Tim McHugh, Friends Committee on National Legislation, firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-903-2515
“At long last, Congress has passed bills to develop better law enforcement practices when it comes to crimes against American Indians and Alaska Natives. This begins the process of ensuring better public safety in tribal and urban Indian communities,” said Diane Randall, FCNL’s general secretary. “As a Quaker organization, we support legislation that honors the promises our country has made to Native Americans.”
Having previously passed the Senate, the bills will now go to the White House for the president’s signature.
“These bills improve two of the most problematic issues plaguing Native communities – coordination among law enforcement agencies and reporting practices,” said Kerri Colfer, FCNL’s Native American program congressional advocate. “A new crisis begins each time a Native woman goes missing. These crises are not limited to remote, rural tribal reservations. They affect Native Americans and their families living in all major American cities and states.”
Savanna’s Act (H.R. 2733) is named after Savanna LaFontaine Greywind, a pregnant Lakota woman who went missing only to be found brutally murdered in August 2017. Its goal is to improve the responses to missing and murdered Native women through coordination among tribal, federal, and local law enforcement agencies. It also requires data on missing and murdered Native people to be compiled and reported.
The Not Invisible Act (H.R. 2438) aims to address the crisis of missing and murdered Native people by creating an advisory committee on crime against American Indians and Alaska Natives to make recommendations to the Department of Justice and Department of Interior.
FCNL and several Native American organizations have been working to ensure both houses of Congress pass legislation to address the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women throughout the United States. Native women and girls face a murder rate 10 times the national average, and more than 4 in 5 Native women have experienced violence.
To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.
Following is a blog post about a meeting with Senator Grassley’s Des Moines staff about Savanna’s Act and the SURVIVE Act on November 20, 2018
On November 20, 2018, a coalition of Native and non-Native people, representing several organizations, met with Carol Olson, Senator Chuck Grassley’s State Director at the Federal Building in Des Moines. Two of Senator Grassley’s staff from Washington, DC, joined us via a conference call. The meeting was a chance for us to get to know each other and find ways we can work with Senator Grassley and others to pass legislation to support Native American communities. Those who attended are shown in the photo below.
This coalition came together from two circumstances. One relates to the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March this September, where a group of about forty Native and non-Native people walked 94 miles, from Des Moines to Fort Dodge, along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This March was organized by Bold Iowa, Indigenous Iowa and Seeding Sovereignty. The goal was the development of a community of Native and non-Native people who would get to know each other so they could work together on areas of common interest.
The other circumstance is the desire of the Friends Committee on National Legislative (FCNL) to build teams of people to develop ongoing relationships with the staff of their U.S. Senators and Representatives in their in-district offices. FCNL is a 75-year-old Quaker organization that has worked to support legislation for peace and justice issues. FCNL is non-partisan and has developed an extensive national network of Friends and others who support this work for peace and justice. Since the 1950’s Native American Affairs have been one of the main areas of focus of the organization.
There are two pieces of legislation in Congress now related to Native Affairs. One is the SURVIVE Act which is intended to get more funds from the Victims of Crime Act to Native communities. The second is Savanna’s Act, which allows tribal police forces to have jurisdiction over non-Native people on Native land, access to criminal databases and expanded collection of crime statistics. Senator Grassley was involved in the passage of the Victims of Crime Act.
During this meeting, Jeff Kisling talked about the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the SURVIVE Act. Christine Nobiss spoke about the racism and violence against Native women and Savanna’s Act. Everyone else then contributed to the discussions.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Indigenous Peoples’ Day Webinar
On October 14 at 1:00 p.m. EDT, FCNL will be organizing and moderating a webinar with the Interfaith Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence on legislative solutions to the crisis of violence in Indian Country. The webinar is part of a four-part series on how racism and misogyny impact survivors’ ability to seek safety and justice.
Our panel will feature speakers from the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center. Register here.
What We’re Reading
- Indigenous groups continue to protest border wall construction at the Arizona-Mexico border.
- Indian Country stands united against attempts to undermine tribal sovereignty in the wake of Supreme Court decision.
- The first Native American woman to become a federal judge reflects on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy, and how her understanding of tribal sovereignty deepened in her later work.
- COVID-19 pandemic relief has too many strings attached, preventing tribes from spending the money on much-needed supplies and infrastructure.
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) bills pass in the House and head to the president’s desk.