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Senate Indian Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on Law Enforcement Bills

On October 25, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing on several bills relating to Native American law enforcement and victim justice, including S. 1870, the Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act, S. 1942, Savanna’s Act, and S. 1953, the Tribal Law and Order Reauthorization and Amendments Act.

The SURVIVE Act, sponsored by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), would ensure that “five percent of the total annual outlays from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) be provided to Indian tribes.” Indian tribes have previously received less than 0.5 percent of the CVF. These funds would provide counseling and other services to victims, including victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

Sponsored by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Savanna’s Act would direct the attorney general to improve law enforcement protocol to address missing and murdered Indians, particularly the high rates of missing and murdered Native women.

Among other provisions, the Tribal Law and Order Reauthorization and Amendments Act, also sponsored by Sen. Hoeven, would improve information sharing between federal and tribal law enforcement officials, allowing victims to know the status of their case. Additionally, federal officials would be required to report the release of a sex offender into Indian country.

The following witnesses testified:

  • Trent Shores, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, U.S. Department of Justice;
  • Bryan Rice, director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior;
  • Dave Flute, chairman, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation;
  • Joel Boyd, Colville business councilman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; and 
  • Carmen O’Leary, director, Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains.
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