Haaland creates unit to “pursue justice” for missing and murdered Native Americans

Full article on Axios news site:

The Department of Interior on Thursday announced the creation of a new unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs tasked with supporting investigations into missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Why it matters: Approximately 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native missing persons cases have been reported to the National Crime Information Center, and about 2,700 cases of murder and non-negligent homicide offenses have been reported to the federal government, according to the Interior Department.

  • The number of cases, however, is feared to be much higher, rights groups say.
  • According to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, Indigenous women in the U.S. face murder rates more than 10 times higher than the national average.

Last year, then-President Trump signed a bill aimed at addressing missing and murdered Native Americans.

  • A task force was created in 2019 “to address the legitimate concerns of American Indian and Alaska Native communities regarding missing and murdered people.”

What they’re saying: “Violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said.

  • “Far too often, murders and missing persons cases in Indian country go unsolved and unaddressed, leaving families and communities devastated,” she added.
  • “The new [Missing & Murdered Unit] will provide the resources and leadership to prioritize these cases and coordinate resources to hold people accountable, keep our communities safe, and provide closure for families.”

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