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President Biden Designates May 5 Missing And Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day

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President Joe Biden has declared today Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, Native Americans have long experienced disproportionately high levels of violence along with roadblocks to solving many of the crimes.

In his proclamation, President Biden says the federal government has failed to allocate the necessary resources to prevent the thousands of unsolved cases of missing and murdered Native Americans. He pledged his administration’s support to address what he calls an “ongoing tragedy” in Indian Country.

"Our treaty and trust responsibilities to Tribal Nations require our best efforts, and our concern for the well-being of these fellow citizens require us to act with urgency.  To this end, our Government must strengthen its support and collaboration with Tribal communities," reads the proclamation.

In 2017, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating May 5 a national day of awareness for missing and murdered Native women and girls. Tribes including the Navajo Nation also recognize the date as a day of remembrance and action.

May 5 was the birthday of Hanna Harris, a 21-year-old member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe of Montana, who went missing in 2013 and was later found sexually assaulted and murdered.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Native American women face murder rates more than 10 times the national average. The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women says four out of five Indigenous females are affected by violence.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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