Biden signs executive order at Tribal Nations Summit addressing crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans

President Joe Biden signs an executive order to help improve public safety and justice for Native Americans during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden signs an executive order to help improve public safety and justice for Native Americans during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native American Heritage Month, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington.
  • A federal strategy to combat violence against Native Americans will be crafted within 240 days.
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland will lead the effort.
  • Research shows that more than 4 in 5 Native American women experience violence in their lifetime.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday during the Tribal Nations Summit instructing federal departments and agencies to coordinate with tribal governments on a trauma-informed, victim-centered approach to address violence against Native Americans.

"Generations of Native Americans have experienced violence or mourned a missing or murdered family member or loved one, and the lasting impacts of such tragedies are felt throughout the country," Biden wrote in his executive order. "Native Americans face unacceptably high levels of violence, and are victims of violent crime at a rate much higher than the national average."

The order charged Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland with identifying resources and developing a larger strategy to combat the crisis within 240 days. Their responsibilities include:

  • Addressing unsolved cases involving Native Americans
  • Coordinating with the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Homeland Security in their efforts to end human trafficking
  • Expanding tribal participation in the Amber Alert in Indian Country initiative 
  • Building on and enhancing national training programs for federal agents and prosecutors
  • Creating an outreach services liaison position within the Department of Justice for criminal cases where the federal government has jurisdiction

Biden's executive order also instructs Garland to improve data collection and information-sharing practices with tribal nations. He is tasked with assessing the current use of DNA testing and database services to identify missing or murdered Indigenous people and make recommendations on improving usage and accessibility of the tools.

Additionally, Haaland was charged with exploring proactive approaches to combatting the crisis of violence against Native Americans, such as strengthening prevention, early intervention, and victim and survivor services.

Native women disproportionately face sexual and gender-based violence. Research from the National Congress of American Indians shows that more than 4 in 5 Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime and more than half have experienced sexual violence, the vast majority at the hands of non-Native perpetrators.

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