We are pleased to present the June 2020 edition of Restoration of Native Sovereignty and Safety for Native Women. In a rapidly changing time given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and increasing racial tensions, this is a crucial time for Native survivors, grassroots advocates and our relatives in the Black community. As Indigenous people, we are no strangers to oppression, injustice and systemic racism, which makes this a critical time for us to rise up in support of uprooting the unjust power structures that exist—in essence, unite in the fight to decolonize the systems and laws that perpetuate colonial ideals and allow perpetrators of violence to roam free.
While Congress has not acted on any pending legislation due to COVID-19, NIWRC is working on behalf of Tribes and programs to ensure the needs of Native victims are included in relief packages aimed at addressing the pandemic. We also remain steadfast in securing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act—S. 2843 and H.R. 1585—as well as the reauthorization of the Family Violence Prevention & Services Act through companion bills S. 2259 and H.R. 5041. These bills include funding for domestic violence services and important Tribal amendments to protect Native women. In this issue, you will find updates on this legislation (pages 47-53) and a special section dedicated to the Tribal Consultation on Violence Against Native Women (page 54).
To safeguard the health of our relatives and help slow the transmission of the virus, NIWRC decided this spring to postpone all upcoming in-person events and on-site visits, including the bi-annual Women Are Sacred Conference. While we were saddened not to share this time with Tribal leaders and advocates, we were in awe of our communities who united virtually in support of the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls on May 5th. Check out the highlights from this day on page 30.
Despite the pandemic, oral arguments were recently heard in McGirt v. Oklahoma, a case in which Oklahoma has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to judicially disestablish the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation, which could jeopardize the safety of Native women. A decision also came through in Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, where a federal court judge has remanded the case to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prepare a full environmental impact statement (EIS) to address health and safety concerns surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline. You can read more about the amicus briefs filed by NIWRC in these cases on page 44.
As the NIWRC, we remain committed to providing national leadership in the work to end violence against Native women by lifting up the collective voices of Tribal Nations and Native women. With your support, we can restore our communities to a place of beauty, balance and safety together. Please consider making a donation to help advance our work at niwrc.org/donate.