Congress reauthorizes Violence Against Women Act

Tribal nations are celebrating the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act.

Congress passed the omnibus spending package for the 2022 fiscal year late Thursday, which included major tribal provisions. It passed in the Senate with a 68-31 vote. The bill will now head to the president’s desk to be signed.

This means that tribal nations “will continue to increase safety and justice for victims who had previously seen little of either,” said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians in a statement.

VAWA reauthorization headed to President’s desk. Tribal provisions passed in appropriations bill for 2022 fiscal year, INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, March 11, 2022

The US Congress just passed the omnibus spending package that included major tribal provisions. Many people and organizations have been lobbying for these provisions for years. Below you will find some history of our lobbying efforts in Iowa since 2018. Despite frustrations about the process and time required, sometimes our goals are achieved. I am especially thankful for all I have learned about lobbying and the support from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).

Coalition to Work with Senator Grassley

November 20, 2018

Today 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, Iowa. 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 ninety-four 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 we could work together on areas of common interest. All those in the photo were on the March except Shazi and Fox Knight, who are members of Bear Creek Friends Meeting, as am I.

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 principal areas of focus of the organization.

During this meeting, I talked about the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the SURVIVE Act. Christine Nobiss (Sikowis) spoke about the racism and violence against Native women and Savanna’s Act. Everyone else then contributed to the discussions.

Jeff Kisling, Fox and Shazi Knight, Christine Nobiss, Shari Hrdina and Sid Barfoot

October 15, 2018

Dear Mr. Kisling:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me to express your support for a tribal set-aside within the Crime Victims Fund. As your senator, it is important that I hear from you.

I was an original cosponsor of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which established the Crime Victims Fund. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ve also called on congressional appropriations leaders to provide an appropriate funding stream for Tribes under VOCA.  As stated in a letter I initiated to the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this year, “individuals on Tribal lands experience high rates of domestic and sexual violence, and resources from the Crime Victims Fund are critical in addressing” these victims’ needs.  This letter was cosigned by several dozen of my Senate colleagues.

I hope you find this information helpful. Your involvement in this issue is important, and I encourage you to keep in touch.


Chuck Grassley
United States Senate

“For too long, tribal communities have been under-resourced and under-supported in their pursuit of justice,” said FCNL General Secretary Bridget Moix. “By reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act as part of the omnibus spending package, lawmakers are helping chart a more just and secure future for Native communities across the country.”

“Expanding tribal criminal jurisdiction strengthens the capacity of tribes to exercise their sovereign authority to protect their citizens,” said Portia K. Skenandore-Wheelock, FCNL’s Native American advocacy program congressional advocate. “The ability of tribal nations to hold all perpetrators accountable is directly linked to protecting tribal communities from further violence and truly getting a handle on this crisis.”

As a Quaker organization, FCNL continues a historic commitment to working in solidarity with Native American communities in support of the full realization of their rights.

Quaker Lobby Commends Congress for Reauthorizing Violence Against Women Act by Alex Frandsen, Friends Committee on National Legislative, March 11, 2022

The historic tribal provisions in VAWA:

  • Reaffirm Tribal Nations’ jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators of child violence, sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, crimes against tribal law enforcement and correctional officers, and obstruction of justice;
  • Establish an Alaska pilot project, which will allow a limited number of Alaska Native Villages to exercise Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators for the first time since the 1998 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie;
  • Clarify that all Tribal Nations in Maine can exercise tribal jurisdiction under VAWA;
  • Ensure that non-Indian defendants must exhaust all Tribal court remedies;
  • Reauthorize funding for and amending the Tribal Access Program, to ensure that all Tribal Nations can access national crime information systems for criminal justice and non-criminal justice purposes;
  • Make the 2010 Bureau of Prisons Tribal Prisoner Program permanent and allow Tribal Nations to place offenders in federal facilities that are sentenced to one year or more; and
  • Significantly increase resources for Tribal Nations to exercise Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction and establish a reimbursement program to cover tribal costs.

National Congress of American Indians
NCAI Tribal Leader Town Hall on the Violence Against Women Act
Date: March 16, 2022
Time: 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. EDT
NCAI will host a virtual Town Hall on March 16, 2022 on the VAWA reauthorization to discuss this historic moment for Indian Country, review the tribal provisions in the law, and highlight the next steps for Tribal Nations. More information to come.

What else is in the bill?

$6.707 billion for Native health programs at the Department of Health and Human Services

  • $6.63 billion for Indian Health Service programs, including $2.3 billion for IHS clinical services
  • $55 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Tribal Opioid Response grant program
  • $22 million for Health Resource and Services Administration grants to the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems

$3.65 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education at the Department of the Interior

  • $7 million for DOI’s Indian Boarding School Initiative to conduct a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies

$1 billion for Native American housing programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • $922 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant program
  • $72.09 million for the Indian Community Development Block Grant program
  • $22.3 million for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program

More than $86 million to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis and public safety needs of Native communities

  • $50 million for the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs assistance to tribes
  • $25 million for DOI’s initiative to address MMIW cases
  • $5.5 million for DOJ’s Office of Violence Against Women Tribal VAWA implementation grant program
  • $3 million for a DOJ initiative to support cross-designation of tribal prosecutors as Tribal Special Assistant United States Attorneys
  • $1 million for DOJ – OVW to conduct analysis & research on violence against Indian women
  • $1 million to support establishment of a Native Hawaiian Resource Center on Domestic Violence
  • $500,000 for a national Training and Technical Assistance clearinghouse on issues relating to sexual assault of American Indian and Alaska Native women
  • Five percent set-aside for tribes to receive direct funding from the Crime Victims Fund

More than $47.5 million for programs to support Native American languages and cultures

  • $16 million for Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
  • $14 million for HHS’s Administration for Native Americans Native language grant programs
  • $9.37 million for the Department of Education’s K-12 Native American language immersion grants
  • $2.3 million for Native American and Hawaiian museum services
  • $1.5 million for Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native culture and arts development
  • $1.5 million for DOI Native American language instruction and immersion programs for federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations
  • $1.5 million for Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act implementation and enforcement at BIA
  • $1 million for the National Bison Range
  • $600,000 for a cultural resource study to protect Chaco Canyon
  • $500,000+ for ED to fund establishment of a Native American Language Resource Center

More than $65.42 million in tribal climate and environmental resiliency funding to help tribal communities address and prepare for the effects of climate change

  • $5 million for DOI’s tribal climate adaptation grants
  • $8 million for DOI’s tribal relocation grants
  • $10.65 million for reclamation of abandoned mines on tribal lands
  • $4.8 million for clean energy development through BIA Minerals and Mining
  • $12 million for mitigation of environmental impacts of Department of Defense activities on Indian lands
  • $6 million for the tribes wildlife conservation grant program at DOI’s Fish and Wildlife Service

VAWA reauthorization headed to president’s desk. Tribal provisions passed in appropriations bill for 2022 fiscal year, INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, March 11, 2022

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