Bill proposes examining violent crimes against Native Americans
FARMINGTON — A federal measure proposes to create an advisory committee to examine ways to reduce violent crime against Native Americans, including the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women.
The Not Invisible Act of 2019 proposes establishing a committee comprised of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal agencies, service providers, survivors and others to make recommendations to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Justice to combat violent crime against Native Americans and on tribal lands.
This would include developing strategies for identifying, reporting and responding to instances of missing persons, murder and human trafficking on tribal lands and of Native Americans.
In addition to the committee, the bill proposes creating a position in the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Office of Justice Services to improve violent crime prevention efforts across federal agencies.
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., introduced the bill on Wednesday. It has received bipartisan support from Reps. Tom Cole, Sharice Davids and Markwayne Mullin.
A similar bill was introduced in the Senate last month by U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.
Navajo Nation officials were quick to voice support for the proposal on Wednesday, including first lady Phefelia Herbert-Nez and second lady Dottie Lizer.
"I encourage leadership to support this effort, and I look forward to working with them as we address sexual violence and trafficking in Navajo communities. The protection of all our Diné relatives is critical," Nez said.
Lizer called the effort to coordinate federal agencies to combat the high rates of domestic violence, sexual assault and murder a step in the right direction.
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty called passage of the bill "paramount" because it would help indigenous communities address crimes such as sexual violence and missing and murdered indigenous people.
"Through a unified voice, we will bring light to these important areas and bring our missing relatives home," Crotty said.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.