Tester Reintroduces Bill to Combat Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Epidemic

SURVIVE Act will provide resources for survivors of violent crime across Indian Country

(U.S. Senate) – After leading a Senate hearing on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) epidemic last month, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is reintroducing his Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act. This bill will give tribes access to a critical source of funding they can use to help survivors of sexual and domestic violence get back on their feet.

“For too long, critical public safety resources have dried up before making it to Indian Country,” Tester said. “The SURVIVE Act will give Native American communities the resources they need to crack down on violence against women and help survivors heal.”

Last year, Tester secured a historic $133 million to help Native American communities assist survivors of violent crime through the Crime Victims Fund. His SURVIVE Act would make this funding permanent by establishing an annual five percent set aside specifically for tribes.

Currently, states can apply for resources through the Crimes Victims Fund directly, but tribes have to go through the states. As a result, these funds rarely make their way to Indian Country. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Indian Country received less than 0.5 percent of Crime Victims Funds between 2010 and 2014.

The SURVIVE Act would set aside funding each year that tribes could use to help survivors pay for shelter, medical care, counseling, and legal assistance. Tester originally introduced this bill back in 2016 after hearing directly from tribal leaders about the need for more victim services across Indian Country.

As a senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has taken a three-pronged approach to addressing the MMIW epidemic focused on raising awareness, providing resources to support survivors, and empowering tribes to bring assailants to justice.