LANSING, Mich., May 4, 2023 — State Rep. Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City) introduced House Bill 4516 today to formally expand domestic violence resources to tribal service providers.

This bill would amend a definition in the enabling legislation for the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Treatment Board to remove ambiguities and clarify that the board may provide funding to tribal domestic and sexual violence shelters and service providers. These tribal programs not only provide life-saving services to all survivors, but also provide unique, culturally specific services that Native survivors cannot find elsewhere.

“Members of Michigan’s tribal nations deserve to have the critical resources needed to address domestic violence and support survivors as much as any municipality,” Coffia said. “Ensuring that service providers have clarity and confidence in being able to secure these resources is essential to the overall health and wellbeing of our great state.”

This change was drafted by the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCEDSV) in consultation with their sister tribal coalition, Uniting Three Fires Against Violence (UTFAV), to solidify the provision of these services. This legislation is also supported by the Treatment Board, the United Tribes of Michigan, and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians — a sovereign nation whose seat of government is located within the borders of the 103rd District.

“Equitable access to funding for tribally operated domestic and sexual violence service providers is imperative to maintaining lifesaving services for all Michiganders,” said Sarah Prout Rennie, MCEDSV executive director. “Tribal domestic and sexual violence service providers supply vital support to survivors in their local communities. They don’t turn their back on any Michigander, so Michigan shouldn’t leave them out.”

“We’re absolutely supportive of this legislation as it provides more opportunity for equitable access to funds for tribes to provide services to their citizens, as American Indian/Alaskan Natives experience the highest rates of violence and often have unique considerations related to victimization that are best responded to by Tribal service providers,” said Rachel Carr-Shunk, executive director of UTFAV.

“The amendments created by this bill will positively impact our rural community, allowing us to ensure our continued support with counseling, shelters and service providers in a meaningful response to violence which disproportionately impacts Native American and Alaskan families,” said David M. Arroyo, chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians’ Tribal Council.

HB 4516 has been referred to the House Committee on Criminal Justice. Tomorrow, May 5, will mark the Day of Remembrance for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.