The plight of the Native woman has been largely ignored through the decades.
But, not any longer.
Through the effort of Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski and her colleagues, the U.S. Department of Interior and the Department of Justice is responding to the Not Invisible Act, which was signed into law by President Trump in 2020.
The departments are forming a joint commission to address the epidemic of missing, murdered and trafficked indigenous women.
And it is an epidemic. Statistics show that a third of Alaska Native and American Indian women experience violence in their lifetimes. Alaska has about 300 missing and/or murdered Native women. It is one of the states with the highest number.
The numbers haven’t declined with awareness. Instead, it is more likely that the keeping of statistics has improved.
Sen. Murkowski says that “it’s a proud moment to see the actions being taken to implement the Not Invisible Act.
“Addressing the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls has long been a priority of mine” Murkowski said. “Too many families have faced unspeakable loss as Native women have gone missing, murdered, or trafficked. … I am hopeful that this new joint commission will be instrumental in protecting women and girls… This is one more step toward healing an open wound which plagues Native communities.”
The Not Invisible Act created a point person in the Bureau of Indian Affairs to improve coordination of violent crime prevention across federal agencies and established that DOI and DOJ commission comprised of law enforcement, tribal leaders, feds, service providers, survivors.
A related Savanna’s Act requires federal law enforcement to create standard guidelines for responding to and collecting data on crimes against Native women.
No one — woman or man — should experience violence. But statistics show far too much of it is against women, and Native women in particular.
Both Native and non-Natives are drawing attention to this type of epidemic today. Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young participated in the opening of the Anchorage Indian Affairs Cold Case Office in 2020.
Today, join the state and the nation in recognizing National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Day. By supporting efforts underway to eliminate the suffering of Native women, the population of women experiencing violence declines.
That is what it’s all about.