President Trump has signed an executive order that will establish a task force to deal with the violence against Native American Indians and Alaskan natives along with the murders. This is an issue the administration has been taking seriously. It follows in the footsteps of Attorney General William Barr’s nationwide plan.
Trump, Barr and several officials from the administration attended the signing of the executive order along with some Native American tribal leaders. Trump told reporters that the action should have taken place a long time ago. The President of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, Shannon Holsey, said that it was an important first step in the direction of justice. Holsey also said that there is a lot to be done to help reduce the violence against Indian women, but that the administration was on the right track.
The order creates an interagency task force under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Interior. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative was announced when Barr was visiting some tribal leaders and law enforcement officials at the Flathead Reservation in Montana. It will invest $1.5 million into the hiring of coordinators in the offices of 11 US attorneys who will come up with the protocols and rules for coordinated action against violence towards indigenous people.
It will allow local law enforcement and tribal machinery to take help from the FI and the Department of Justice to conduct in-depth investigations and review federal databases to determine what is best for the collection of data on missing persons of American Indian origin.
In a statement, Barr admitted that American Indian and Native Alaskans have suffered from disproportionately high levels of violence in the past that have impacted families and communities. They also suffer from the highest rates of domestic violence and murder. Over 5,700 women of these ethnicities have been reported mission in 2016 out of which only 116 cases were logged according to the National Crime Information Center. 84% of Native women experience violence while tribal communities are ten times more likely to be murdered than others.
Violence against Native American women is not limited to the reservations, but as claimed by the Urban Indian Health Institute, 506 cases of missing and murdered Native American women have been recorded in 71 cities in the US in the last 10 years. The data is an underestimation and 153 cases that did not exist on record were unearthed by the UIHI. 97% of these cases of violence were at the hands of non-Native American perpetrators.
Bipartisan legislation is being used to address this issue in Congress as well. Senators are sponsoring Savanna’s Act that would increase coordination between tribal and federal agencies to improve access to law enforcement in these communities.
The bill would mandate a standardized guideline for responders in the cases of missing and murdered Native American women and the statistics to be reported in a dossier to the Congress each year.
The Indian Affairs Committee has approved of the Bill but it is yet to be voted on in the Senate.