Do something now about missing, murdered and trafficked Indigenous people
In hearings held across the country, hundreds of Indigenous peoples shared their experiences and recommendations on missing, murdered and trafficked Indigenous peoples with a federally mandated commission for the first time in history.
From these hearings also came recommendations, and the Not Invisible Act Commission has compiled a 212-page report highlighting its findings and recommendations to address the crisis of missing, murdered and trafficked Indigenous peoples in the U.S.
“There is a crisis in Tribal communities. A crisis of violence, a crisis of abuse, and a crisis of abject neglect affecting Indian Women & Men, Indian Children, and Indian Elders,” the commission wrote in the report.
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“The federal government must act now; not tomorrow; not next week; not next month; and not next year,” the commission stated. “Once and for all, the federal government must end its systematic failure to address this crisis and react, redress, and resolve this.”
The Not Invisible Act Commission is calling upon the federal government to declare a Decade of Action and Healing to address the crisis..
The commission’s recommendations are headed to the Department of the Interior, Department of Justice and U.S. Congress where federal officials have 90 days to respond to the commission’s recommendations.
“We sincerely hope that our recommendations will be received with the same sense of urgency that we the Commission feel in delivering them,” the Not Invisible Act Commission wrote in a letter to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House majority leaders.
Over the course of eight public hearings, more than 250 Indigenous people shared their experiences and recommendations with the Not Invisible Act Commission, a cross-jurisdictional advisory committee composed of law enforcement, Tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, family members of missing and murdered individuals and survivors.
“With each passing day, more and more American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) persons are victimized due to inadequate prevention and response to this crisis,” the commission wrote. “Our recommendations encompass actions that must be undertaken without delay to provide AI/AN people and communities with the same sense of safety and security that other communities in the United States take for granted.”
The commission was created by the Not Invisible Act of 2019, which was signed into law in October 2020. It is the first bill in history to be introduced and passed by four U.S. congressional members who are enrolled in federally recognized tribes. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, one of those four, spearheaded the bill during her time in Congress.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community. Crimes against Indigenous peoples have long been underfunded and ignored, rooted in the deep history of intergenerational trauma that has affected our communities since colonization,” Haaland said in a press release. “I look forward to reviewing the recommendations, which will help us continue to galvanize attention and resources toward these tragic epidemics.”
The commission was mandated to develop recommendations on actions the federal government can take on six focused topics to help combat violent crime against Indigenous people and within Tribal lands and to address the epidemic of missing persons, murder and trafficking of Indigenous people.
“I am so grateful to the members of the Not Invisible Act Commission for the time and effort they have given to this work and this report over the past two years,” Haaland said. “Indian Country will be safer, and lives will be saved because of this Commission’s work.”
The commission’s report features seven chapters, each addressing one of the six topics: Law enforcement and investigative resources; policies and programs; recruitment and retention of Tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement; coordinating resources; victim and family resources and services and other necessary legislative and administrative changes. One chapter is dedicated to addressing the issue among Alaska Natives.
Some of the recommendations include stabilizing federal funding, amending jurisdictional laws, developing Tribal community response plans and standardizing missing person and child regulations.
“These recommendations will play an important role in our shared work to address the violence Tribal communities face,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a press release. “The Justice Department is committed to working with the Department of Interior, Congress, and our state, local, and Tribal partners to address the Commission’s recommendations and respond to the public safety challenges facing American Indians and Alaska Natives.”