Char-Koosta News: Tester scores wins for Indian Country

Health care and education among victories in Appropriations packages that provide critical funding to Native American priorities

BIG SANDY – U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured millions in funding to support law enforcement and health care initiatives for Montana Tribes as part of the annual 2020 Appropriations package. Tester also continued his push to provide critical funding for programs to combat the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).

“This bill gives Montana Tribes the tools to better strengthen law enforcement, health care, and fight the MMIW crisis,” Tester said. “It’s critical that we provide Tribal governments needed resources so they can continue moving Native American communities forward while upholding our trust and treaty responsibilities to Indian Country.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester is responsible for writing the 12 bills that fund the federal government each year. He was able to secure millions in funding to benefit Indian Country in this year’s appropriations package, including:

MMIW Crisis

  • $158.8 million (5 percent) set-aside for Tribes from the Crime Victims Fund.
  • $1 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) investigations and other services related missing persons and murder cases.
  • $6 million for implementation and continuation of the special Tribal jurisdiction under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to help Native communities prosecute domestic violence crimes.
  • $1 million for Department of Justice (DOJ) research on violence against Native American Women.
  • $1 million for criminal and investigative services to focus on cold and unsolved cases.
  • Directs the BIA and DOJ to improve coordination-including data sharing, training, and technical assistance, and other resources-to better address and prevent these crimes.

Tribal Law Enforcement

  • $419 million to Public Safety and Justice Initiatives at the BIA.
  • $2 million for equipment to help Tribal law enforcement collect and preserve crime scene evidence.
  • $2.5 million for BIA to operate new advanced training for detectives and forensics in the Great Plains region.
  • $7.5 million to hire drug enforcement officers and assist in drug-related issues.
  • $40.3 million for construction funding, including report language acknowledging the backlog of public safety facility renovations in Indian Country.
  • $1 million for expediting background checks to hire new Tribal law enforcement officers.

Health Care

  • $53.2 million for Urban Indian Health Programs.
  • $57.8 million for the Indian Health Professions program and $44 million for the Indian Health Service (IHS) Repayment Program, which help HIS recruit and retain staff.
  • $11.5 million for new and replacement IHS staff quarters.


  • $1 billion for the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)
  • $2 million for Native language immersion program grants for non-BIE funded schools, private nonprofits, and Tribal organizations.