Pending Legislation Impacting the Safety of Native Women

By Kerri Colfer, Tlingit, NIWRC Senior Native Advisor

Legal Reforms and Increased Resources can Remove Barriers to Safety and Justice

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

On March 17, the House voted 244 to 172 to pass the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 (H.R. 1620).1 The bill,

Image by Ne-Dah-Ness Greene.

which was last reauthorized in 2013 and expired in 2018, was reintroduced on March 8 by Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Similar to the VAWA reauthorization bill that passed the House in April 2019 (H.R. 1585)2 and the Senate companion bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in November 2019 (S.2843),3 this bill would build on the progress of the 2013 VAWA reauthorization by reaffirming the inherent sovereign authority of Tribal Nations to hold non-Indian perpetrators accountable in cases involving child abuse, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking. The bill, which was developed in partnership with national and tribal advocacy organizations, also includes critical resources for tribes to implement VAWA.

Family Violence Prevention and Service Act (FVPSA)

On March 23, Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA- 06), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Don Young (R-AK-At Large), and John Katko (R-NY-24) introduced the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement

Act (H.R. 2119).4 Authorization for the Family Violence





Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) expired in 2015. This FVPSA reauthorization bill provides critical support for shelters, coalitions, training and technical assistance centers, children’s services, emergency response hotlines, and prevention initiatives. FVPSA is also the only federal grant program solely dedicated to domestic violence shelter and supportive services and is the primary source of funding for these services for Indian tribes.

Similar to S. 2259 and H.R. 5041, which were introduced in the last Congress, this newly reintroduced FVPSA bill would expand grant programs and make many needed improvements so that more survivors have access to support and safety, including:

  • Increasing the overall funding authorization level to address very low per-program funding levels and provide access to FVPSA funds for more tribes and programs not currently funded.
  • Authorizing recognition and meaningful funding for tribal coalitions to provide Indian tribes and tribal organizations with technical assistance and training on developing responses to domestic violence.
  • Authorizing recognition and permanent funding for the currently funded Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center.
  • Authorizing recognition and permanent funding for the currently funded StrongHearts Native Helpline to serve as the national Indian domestic violence hotline. 


Sign up for monthly Legislative Update

Check out the "Policy Center" tab at for the most recent legislative update!