Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska

Senator Lisa Murkowski has long advocated for the betterment of Alaska Natives, American Indians, and Native Hawaiian people on a variety of issues. She was the first member of the Alaska Congressional Delegation to receive 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 is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which funds the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and the Indian Health Service (IHS). In Senator Murkowski’s tenure on the Indian Affairs Committee, 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. Through Murkowski’s leadership on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee she oversaw implementation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, including its crucial subsistence provisions.

For years Senator Murkowski has worked to help raise awareness, educate her colleagues, and develop lasting legislation to address the public safety crisis in Alaska. In October 2020, Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act, two bills introduced by Senator Murkowski aimed at addressing the crisis of missing, murdered, and trafficked Indigenous people were signed into law. Both bills aim to combat the epidemic by improving the federal government’s response through increased coordination, development of best practices, and creation of an advisory committee on violent crime. She has successfully included funding in appropriations bills for the BIA and IHS to take a comprehensive look at the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, which includes funding for cold case work, background checks, equipment needs, and forensic training.

Securing a promising future for Native youth is one of Senator Murkowski's highest priorities. Senator Murkowski was a founding director of the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute, a program dedicated to improving the health, safety, and overall well-being of Native youth. 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. These efforts include the creation of the Commission on Native Children to identify the complex challenges facing Native children in Alaska and across the country, made possible through her legislation, 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 BIA denied them access to tribal court funds, Senator Murkowski appropriated funds to enable tribes in PL 280 states to support their tribal courts. And 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, health care, rural broadband, public safety, and food security.