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US panel to focus on Native American missing, slain cases

Deb Haaland
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Thursday announced the members of a commission that will craft recommendations on how the federal government can better tackle unsolved cases in which Native Americans and Alaska Natives have gone missing or have been killed.

Haaland blamed the disproportionately high number of such cases on a lack of urgency and coordination.

The commission is expected to hold public hearings and gather testimony over the coming months.

Meanwhile, some tribes and states, including New Mexico, have created their own response plans to address the problem.

Thursday was National Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. In the U.S., Indigenous women and girls go missing and are murdered at disproportionately high rates.

According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, homicide is the third-leading cause of death among Native American women, who also face rates of violence up to 10 times higher than the national average.