Beginning in the 1970s, the grassroots advocacy movement helped to shine a light on the devastating impact of domestic violence and the injustices victims have long faced in the U.S. This engagement of grassroots advocates was seen in federal events, such as in 1978 when Tillie Black Bear (Sicangu Lakota) and other advocates provided testimony during a consultation to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as well as during a series of Congressional hearings in 1983 and 1984. Soon after in 1984, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act was originally passed into law to support victim services throughout the country through grants to states, tribal governments, and territories, as well as to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. FVPSA has since been reauthorized seven times, including twice as part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and five times as part of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
Administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, FVPSA is the only federal funding source supporting immediate shelter and supportive services and is the primary source of funding for these services for federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. FVPSA mandates that “not less than 10 percent” of the annual appropriation shall be used to support Indian tribes to achieve the purposes of the legislation. Some of the FVPSA state fund requirements govern the FVPSA tribal funds. With funding under FVPSA, many Indian tribes have developed tribal programs to provide a spectrum of services, including shelter, safety planning, counseling, legal services, childcare and services for children, career planning, life skills training, community education and public awareness, and other necessities, such as clothing, food, and transportation. And yet, the critical needs of survivors continue to outpace FVPSA funded services’ capacity and reach, particularly in Indian country where Native women face a disproportionate rate of domestic violence. Currently, fewer than half of all federally recognized tribes receive FVPSA funding.
For more than two years, a coalition of national Native organizations—including the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, National Congress of American Indians, StrongHearts Native Helpline, and the Alliance of Tribal Coalitions to End Violence (ATCEV)—has worked closely with congressional champions to draft an enhanced version of a bill to reauthorize FVPSA.
- 2010— FVPSA authorized the creation and permanent funding for a National Indian Resource Center on Domestic Violence, of which role NIWRC serves. From 1998 to 2010, Sacred Circle fulfilled this role. FVPSA also authorized funding for resource centers to reduce tribal disparities in states for which the Native population exceeds 10% of a state’s total population, including Alaska and Hawaii. Since 2017, Congress appropriated and the federal administering office, the Family Youth and Services Bureau has funded an Alaska Native Tribal Resource Center on Domestic Violence fulfilled by the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center.
- 2021— Introduced on March 23, 2021, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Reauthorization Act of 2021, H.R. 2119, reauthorizes FVPSA grant programs. On April 21, 2021, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced an enhanced bi-partisan reauthorization of FVPSA, S.1275, which mirrors H.R. 2119, introduced previously by Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Don Young (R-AK) and John Katko (R-NY). Both S. 1275 and H.R. 2119 include critical tribal enhancements:
- increased overall authorizations;
- adjustment of the funding distribution formula to increase the amount that tribes receive from 10% to 12.5%.
- dedicated authorized funding for an Alaska Native Tribal Resource Center on Domestic Violence;
- dedicated authorizedfunding for a Native Hawaiian Resource Center on Domestic Violence (listen to podcast); and
- dedicated authorization for a national Indian domestic violence hotline.