Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska
Senator Lisa Murkowski stands among the most respected members of Congress on matters pertaining American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian people. She was the first member of the Alaska Congressional Delegation to earn the National Congress of American Indians’ coveted Congressional Leadership Award and the National Indian Health Board’s Jake White Crow Award for Lifetime Achievement. Senator Murkowski was a founding director of the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute and has been selected on multiple occasions by the National Congress of American Indians to deliver the congressional response to the annual State of Indian Nations address.
Senator Murkowski chairs the Senate Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee which funds the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. She is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, on which she has served for the past thirteen years. Senator Murkowski served as Vice Chairman and Ranking Member of the Indian Affairs Committee from 2007 – 2009, during which she shepherded the first reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in more than a decade, as well as the landmark Tribal Law and Order Act through the Senate. As Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Senator Murkowski oversees implementation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, including its crucial subsistence provisions.
Securing a promising future for Native youth is one of Senator Murkowski's highest priorities. Senator Murkowski takes great pride in her 2006 legislation which made it possible for more Alaska Native Corporations to make stock available to Native youth born after 1971. Senator Murkowski leverages her seat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to advocate for Alaska Native education and Native language preservation. She has joined with Democratic colleague Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota in advancing the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act.
Senator Murkowski is a long-standing proponent of meaningful and in-depth consultation between federal and tribal governments. In response to complaints from Alaska tribal governments that the Bureau of Indian Affairs denied them access to tribal court funds, Senator Murkowski appropriated funds to enable tribes in PL 280 states to support their tribal courts. And last year the Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to re-designate Saxman as a rural community for subsistence purposes after Senator Murkowski filed legislation to end a decade of impasse.
Senator Murkowski works with Alaska Native communities and residents in rural Alaska on a wide range of issues including energy, infrastructure, veterans’ health care, and food security.