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U.S. Attorney General Unveils Plan On Missing Native Americans

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(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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U.S. Attorney General William Barr has announced a nationwide plan to address the crisis of missing and slain Native American women as concerns mount over the level of violence they face. Barr announced the plan during a visit to the Flathead reservation in Montana on Friday.

It’s called the “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative.”

The Justice Department’s new initiative would invest $1.5 million to hire specialized coordinators in 11 U.S. attorney’s offices across the U.S. with significant Indian Country caseloads. The coordinators would be responsible for developing protocols for a better law enforcement response to missing persons cases.

Tribal or local law enforcement officials would also be able to call on the FBI for additional help in some missing indigenous persons cases. The FBI could then deploy some of its specialized teams, including investigators who focus on child abduction or evidence collection and special agents who can help do a quick analysis of digital evidence and social media accounts.

Native American women experience some of the nation’s highest rates of murder, sexual violence and domestic abuse. The National Institute of Justice estimates that 1.5 million Native American women have experienced violence in their lifetime, including many who are victims of sexual violence. On some reservations, federal studies have shown women are killed at a rate more than 10 times the national average.

Barr said he spoke to President Donald Trump about the initiative, which calls for some of the same things already in legislation pending in Congress. He also spoke to tribal leaders about how a surge in methamphetamine use may be influencing violence in Indian Country.

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