Published on Jul 13, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. | Today, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment offered by Representatives Betty McCollum (D—MN) and Tom Cole (R—OK) that would support tribal public safety and victim services programs. The amendment was adopted by voice vote with overwhelming bi-partisan support.
“The McCollum-Cole Amendment comes as great news to tribal nations across the country,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby. “We are so pleased that the Appropriations Committee recognized the appalling unmet need in tribal communities and took an important step toward ensuring that crime victims in tribal communities have access to the justice and services they deserve.”
Despite federal and tribal government attempts to reduce violence on Indian lands, reservations continue to face staggering rates of violent crime and victimization. A recent DOJ study found that more than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native adults have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime. Among American Indian and Alaska Native women, 55.5 percent have experienced physical violence by intimate partners in their lifetime, and more than half (56.1 percent) have experienced sexual violence. DOJ also found that Native victims are more likely to be injured as a result of their violent victimization, more likely to need services, and are significantly less likely to have access to services compared to their non-Native counterparts.
The McCollum-Cole Amendment is an amendment to the FY18 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations (CJS) bill. Without this amendment, the bill would have resulted in cuts of 43% to Department of Justice (DOJ) tribal justice system funding over FY16 levels. This would have had a devastating impact on DOJ programs that support tribal police departments, courts, juvenile justice, detention center construction, and other important public safety programs in Indian Country. The Amendment also created a 5% tribal funding stream from the Crime Victims Fund, the primary federal source for crime victim services, which currently includes formula funding for state and territorial governments, but not tribal governments. The House bill includes $4.6 billion in outlays from the Crime Victims Fund, and the amendment adopted today directs 5% of that funding to tribal governments.
With its adoption by the House Appropriations Committee today, NCAI hopes that similar language will be included in the Senate bill, thereby strengthening the future of Indian Country by addressing crime on tribal lands through restoration of tribal access to safety and justice and improvements in tribal public safety funding, strategy, and planning.
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.