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‘A Matter of Dignity’: Biden Signs Ordinance Regarding Violence Against Indigenous Peoples

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on violence against indigenous communities on Monday.

“These efforts are a matter of dignity,” Biden said at the White House Tribal Nations Summit opening ceremony. “It’s the foundation of our nation-to-nation partnership.

The decree directs the departments of Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to create a strategy that will improve public safety and justice for Native Americans, as well as resolve the peoples’ crisis. missing or murdered natives.

“I am proud to sign it. It’s been long overdue, ”Biden said when signing the order on Monday. “We are going to make substantial changes in the Indian country, and it will continue.”

The decree is titled “Improving Public Safety and Criminal Justice for Native Americans and Addressing the Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples”.

“This builds on the work we did together to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 when we granted tribes the power to exercise jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders who commit violence on the land. tribal, ”Biden said.

“We are going to re-authorize this again, we are going to extend the jurisdiction again to include other offenses like sex trafficking, sexual assault and child abuse,” he added.

The decree states that “generations of Native Americans have suffered violence or mourned a missing or murdered family member or loved one, and the lasting effects of such tragedies are felt across the country.”

The first section of the ordinance focuses on policy. He said the Biden administration will work directly with tribal nations to strengthen public safety and criminal justice in the Indian country and beyond.

“The previous executive action failed to achieve changes sufficient to reverse the epidemic of indigenous disappearances or killings and violence against Native Americans,” the decree said.

A section of the ordinance dictates the coordination of federal agencies to prevent and respond to violence against Native Americans. He calls on the attorney general and the secretary of the interior to assess and build on existing efforts to develop a federal law enforcement strategy focused on preventing and responding to violence against Native Americans.

The executive order also calls for support for tribal and non-federal law enforcement efforts to prevent and respond to violence against Native Americans, as well as to improve data collection, analysis and information sharing. And Biden calls for strengthening prevention, early intervention, and victim and survivor services, with an emphasis on consultation and engagement with Indigenous communities.

On behalf of the Tohono O’odham Nation, President Ned Norris Jr. said he wanted to recognize Biden’s decisive action with his signing of the Executive Order on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Crisis.

“This is a problem that the Tohono O’odham Nation has strived to resolve and requires the immediate attention of federal authorities, as well as tribal, state and local law enforcement,” Norris said.

“The nation (Tohono O’odham) looks forward to increased consultation and coordination with our federal partners as we work to protect our people and bring perpetrators to justice,” he added.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Navajo Nation First Lady Phefelia Nez also praised Biden’s decree and other agencies’ commitments to tribal nations.

“Far too many Navajo people continue to endure the grief and frustration of a loved one who has passed away,” said President Navajo Nez. “We must continue to work together to do more for our people. “

“The decree will help agencies at the federal, state and tribal levels to better communicate and work together to address data sharing and collection, law enforcement responses and support for families of missing persons,” said the Minister. First Lady Nose of the Navajo Nation, who is also a member of the New Mexico Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force.

There is no centralized database among the thousands of federal, state and tribal entities, which limits data on missing and murdered indigenous peoples.

For example, data on missing persons can be taken from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

The last report released by NamUs on missing indigenous peoples was in August, where it indicated that there were 734 unresolved cases of missing indigenous peoples in 36 states. Arizona has the thirstiest case count with 55.

The INCC publishes an annual summary that highlights the total number of reported missing persons and unidentified persons cases. In 2020, more than 9,500 cases involving Indigenous people were reported, and nearly 1,500 were still active cases at the end of 2020.

In terms of murder rates among indigenous peoples, the Home Office reported that 2,700 cases of non-negligent murder and homicide were reported to the federal government’s uniform crime reporting program.

Native Americans face unacceptable levels of violence and are victims of violent crime at a rate much higher than the national average, says Biden’s decree. This is especially true for Native American women, who are disproportionately victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including intimate partner homicides.

In some tribal communities, women face murder rates more than 10 times the national average, according to the Justice Department.

In 2017, homicide was reported as the fourth leading cause of death among Indigenous women aged 1 to 19 and the sixth leading cause of death among those aged 20 to 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a report from the National Institute of Justice, 84% of indigenous women experience violence in their lifetime, compared to 71% of white women.

“We recognize that our country has historically failed to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous peoples with the urgency and resources it demands,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at the summit. “We also recognize that resolving this crisis requires that we work in partnership with each other. The presidential decree will build on and expand our efforts to do just that. “

Garland said the Justice Department shares the president’s commitment to work in partnership with tribal nations to support comprehensive law enforcement, prevention, response and support services.

“We are committed to working together to make tribal communities safer. We are committed to honoring and strengthening our nation-to-nation relationship. And we are committed to protecting the civil rights of Amerindians, ”he added.

This story originally appeared in Arizona Mirror, a States Newsroom publication.

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