tv House Natural Resources Subcommitee Hearing on Missing and Murdered... CSPAN March 17, 2019 9:43pm-10:53pm EDT
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or wherever books are sold. the house natural resources subcommittee on indigenous peoples of the united states held a hearing thursday on the high rates of missing and murdered indigenous women across the country. this runs one hour and 10 minutes. an hour. >> the subcommittee for indigenous people of the united states will now come to order. the subcommittee is meeting to ar touchdown on murdered and missing indigenous women. under committee rule, any oral opening statements are limited to the chairman and ranking minority member and allows to hear to witnesses sooner. therefore, i ask unanimous consent that all other members' opening statements be made part of the opening hearing record if
they are submitted to the subcommittee clerk by 5:00 today or close of hearing, which comes first. hearing no objection, so ordered. good morning to you all and warm welcome to our witnesses. we will be confronting a troubling situation, the hidden crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. a report noted that 1.5 million american-indian experience violence in their lifetime. on reservations, women experience murder rates 10 times the national average. additionally, the report found 5,712 cases of missing or murdered indigenous women. in reality, these numbers are much ladger because these women are underrepresented in data.
a lack of data is just one factor contributing to this crisis. the witnesses we have here today will attest to many other factors that exacerbate the situation. extreme jurisdictional challenges in our criminal justice system leading to lack of prosecution and inadequate resources for tribal justice systems. i would like to share with you a few of the heartbreaking cases that have brought new attention to the situation in indian country and highlight some of the failures of our current system. sh lee lore reason was seen on a reservation in montana, her family and friends spent a year searching on their own. february, 2018, nine months, the federal bureau of investigation joined the search. to this day, even with the help of f.b.i., ashley remains
missing. 2013, mackenzie howard, a 13-year-oldville villager in alaska went missing. it took 11 hours for state troopers to finally arrive during which time the village men guarded her body throughout the night. 111016, ashton mike, an -year-old navajo girl was trigged to take a ride from a stranger. because of jurisdictional issues, the amber alert wasn't should until 11 hours. according to a study by the washington state attorney general's office, 76% of children are killed within the first three hours. in 2017, a 22-year-old member of a tribe went missing in north
dakota. she was eight months pregnant. her brutal attack and murder was perpetrated by a neighbor and her body was found eight days later. i know these stories are hard to hear and hard for me to read them. we must improve the data system related to murder and missing indigenous women to identify the scope of this problem. we must prioritize communications to reduce the lag protocol in ge the combatting violence against indigenous women. we must take action. today, we are going to hear testimony from experts fighting on the front lines of this battle and what is working and what is not and what we can do to end the cycle of violence.
i would like to recognize the ranking member. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and thank you to our witnesses for being here today. today's hearing is focused on very, very difficult subject on a very serious issue based on native communities. crime and violence tragically are not a new phenomenon in indian country. the department of justice has emphasized making law enforcement in independentian country a priority because american indians are victims of violent crimes at rates higher than the general population. come pounding the problem is that many tribal communities are found in remote rural areas where tight tribal police budgets make timely and effective response to crimes on the reservation that much more
challenging. there appears to be a concxds con census that the trade of rates -- high rates of domestic violence against native women continue. despite the enactment of two major laws since 2010 to tackle this problem. i'm speaking of the tribal law nd order act of 2010 and the violence against women re-authorization act of 2013 of which i was pleased to support and vote for known as vawa. reliable timely data concerning crime and law enforcement in indian country can be hard to come by depending on the scope of methods reached report on the topic, all have shown there is a problem relating to tribal communities. i'm pleased that the department of interior has included in its
budget proposal a new initiative to combat crimes specifically against native american women in independentian country. it would be helpful and we talked about this in the future, have witnesses representing the department of interior and ustice to tell us what the officers and federal prosecutors are doing about missing and murdered native women, but i don't believe we have any here today. and the other reason is quite frankly, they can get the message that we are very, very concerned about that and all of us think that we need more funding in these vital areas to perhaps correct that problem. given the complicated jurisdictional issues in indian country, we must ensure that all at the table are working to reduce these types of crimes and i want to thank the chairman for
allowing me to testify. thank you. mr. gallego: thank you. i look forward to working with you to move this along and bring some justice to our indian country. i will introduce our expert witnesses for today. first witness is sarah deer, at the of muscogee, university of phoenix and inducted into the national women's hall of fame. next is the honorable ruth hidasta f the mandan and arikara nation. nagle,t witness is marey member of the cherokee nation.
and timely, our last witness is tami jerue, anvik tribe, mother of four and alaskan native women's resource center. under our committee rules, we must limit your statements to five minutes. but the entire written statement will appear in the record. the light on the table will turn green. after four minutes, the yellow light will come on. your time will expire when the red light comes on. recognizes ms.ow sarah deer to testify. deer deer good morning. the honorable chairman, ranking mber, chairman gallego and representative paul cook.
thanks for inviting me to testify before this subcommittee on missing and murdered indigenous woman. i'm a citizen of the muscogee creek tribe and professor at the university of kansas and serve as the chief justice court of appeals. today i'm testifying in my personal capacity. my testimony today will focus on our knowledge in terms of the offer bers of mmiw and some theories about the causes of the high rates and a few suggestions on how congress can improve law enforcement's response to this crisis. mention the name of four tribal leaders, sarah, missing, 199, peggy, missing, 2015. ruth and, murdered in march of
whose body riagey was found two days ago in critical. it is critical to understand that the crisis has deep roots in the historical mistreatment the united men in states. they have been disappearing since 1492. targeted killing of native women is also not a recent phenomenon. the history of oppression makes it difficult to achieve buy-in for communities who have been victims of oppression at the hands of the federal government. when crafting solutions we have to be ready to accept there will be no quick fix to this problem. the crisis has been several hundred years in the making and will require sustained multiyear and facetted efforts to
understand and address the problem. i want to mention an organization called the sovereign bodies institute which has been collecting the names and stories of mmiw in the united states. hat data base has over 1,870 names. now there are many questions about why these rates are as high as they are. in my written testimony i mention several factors including jurisdictional barriers, indifference from government officials, the lack of jurisdictional communication and planning, the failure to adequately fund tribal justice systems and the problem of sex traffickers and other predators targeting native women specifically. we know the jurisdictional question is at the forefront of crime in independentian country and this is no different. there are a variety of legal jurisdictional questions that arise when a tribal member goes
missing. if they live on the reservation, did they disappear off the earl reservation, does the tribe have concurrent jurisdiction. so we need to have some resolution to these questions. i want to now move to a more difficult factor, which is the predatory targeting of women and girls. while most victims in the united states are killed by someone they know. but there is evidence that there are predators who target native women and girls for trafficking. in 2010, law enforcement officers in alaska determined that girls and women who traveled to anchorage are because of ex rings their market built. native girls are targeted in part because they are considered
versatile, meaning they can be advertised on the internet as hawaii an or asian. an averagorage-based sex , heficker who was convicted trapped victims in the sex trade through brute force including beatings, icy baths and sleep deprivation. in canada, an investigation for reporters concluded that indigenous women in canada, which has a similar history, are seven times more likely than a nonindigenous woman to die at the hands of a serial killer. thank you for allowing me to testify today. i'm hopeful new attention on a very old problem will finally begin to stem the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. as a nation, i believe we are
better than this. please support the families of mmiw to find their loved ones and bring them home. mr. gallego: next, we have the ruth buffalo mandan, house of representatives, 27th district. manned manned good morning speaking foreign language] >> it's an honor to be in front of you to share about this important. i'm a member of the mandan, hidasta. 'm representing 27th district.
the men have great respect for our women. i have introduced four legislative bills which address the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous people and human trafficking and acknowledge the good work that has been done by former senator heidi heitkamp with respect to missing, murdered and also human trafficking. i have brought forward a resolution to examine the issue of missing and murdered
indigenous people and the resolution urging congress to pass this act. this has passed through the north dakota house and awaits action in the north dakota senate. the legislation introduced in north dakota is nongender specific and wanted to include. house bill 1311 seeks law enforcement training and others and house bill 1313 as amended would create a state repository on missing people including the indigenous population. ouse bill 1507 and 1541 will give training to hotels, establishments and schools. house bill 1311 would provide training for state attorneys and law enforcement officials regarding missing and murdered
indigenous people. the training would be provided by the north dakota human trafficking commission. and organizations in government. house bill 1313 would create a state repository for missing persons. this bill comes with a fiscal note of $75,000 to update the software of the criminal justice system within the attorney general's office. in addition, this bill would address the need for accuracy in data, collection of missing and murdered indigenous people. i wish i had more data to share with you, but the fact that i don't is part of the reason why i'm here. as a resident of fargo, north dakota, i was on the front line of the search for savannah. asked mentain -- women to lead the search. in our culture, you don't say no
especially if a female elder makes the request. we began the search on august 27, my birthday. kayakers found the deceased in the red river. from that day forward, our eyes were open to the real threat before us and formed a local task force dedicated to preventing such tragedies from ever happening again and we thought if and when this should happen again, we didn't want to waste time in having to convince law enforcement that we are human beings and that we deserve justice. there cannot be -- there must not be any more stolen sisters. we simply cannot tolerate losing sisters in this way. from my experience of being a volunteer searcher has led me to find solutions. i thought how savannah was
growing up in fargo off of the reservation. from the start of the search i wanted federal agencies to become involved. after all she was a member of a federally recognized tribe. the situation dictated we must work with local authorities when instances occur outside of the reservation. one thing that will forever ring in my mind is attending the trial and hearing one of the murderers hear what he said that day to the police. he told the police, she's always taking off. her parents were just here last week looking for her, when we knew the statement was fall. it raises many questions, did this comment sway law enforcement or not into taking swift action. that is why we continue working for justice and for healing our communities. some of the recommendations that i would like to mention is the
national inquiry with hearings held throughout the united states in rural and urban areas to go to the very communities that suffer the loss of their oved ones, to include language into the scope of work within the office of violence against women and office for victims of crimes. as a public health professional and researcher, i know data tells the story. without data there is no clear evidence that a problem exist. there is truth from generation to generation. our communities know which relatives have yet to return. we must -- by giving them tools and resources and bringing the loved ones home. thank you for allowing me to estify before you.
south dakota ms. nagle: restoration of tribal sovereignty and protection to protect the lives. we have played a >> it has played a critical role here in the united states today. united states. we have hosted numerous jational training on the hill and hosted educational films and held vigils and collaborated with grassroots for a national day of
awareness. our main office is in montana so our staff experienced the losses of two women. this is a crisis that strikes at home and strikes deep. in september of 2018, we hosted a candlelight vidgeal. gwen moore spoke about the importance of the tribal jurisdiction supplementing the tribal law enforcement in compelling the federal government to take this issue seriously to investigate and prosecute cases of missing and murdered indigenous women. a woman shared a story of her daughter who was murdered during a domestic violence action on the hoppy reservation. as to myself, i'm a citizen of the cherokee nation and i'm a scent who was speaker of our
tribal council created our cherokee nation supreme court and criminalized the rape of any women regardless of the identity or race tribal council or citizenship o perpetrator. the tribal leader understood the tribal safety for women and that informs and commands the work i undertake today. testimony underscores the depth of this crisis. the fact that our women are murdered 10 times national rate. in addition to that high rate of violence we know that the majority from the statistics d.o.j. national institutes of justice, the majority of crimes are committed by non-indians. members of our own nation are committing crimes, we have a a huge increase. 1978, the supreme court
eliminated tribal jurisdiction, this has exacerbated. however when we look at the missing and murdered indigenous women, this is a high source of high rates of violence and lack of a response. because of the supreme court decision in 1978 and current legal framework to eas and prosecute a person, the tribal government must determine that the identity of the perpetrator is a citizen of a tribe. if they can't determine that, it paralyzes to protect their own citizens. this is the case so oven. a woman went missing in october of 2017. her tribal nation could not determine whether or not it had jurisdiction because they could not identify the identity of the perpetrator. and although her brother
repeatedly demanded that all state, tribal and federal officials act immediately to locate her and to search for her, it wasn't until 10 months later after he had been asking for 10 months to search all bodies of water that they found her deceased in her truck in the bottom of a lake. so often when one of our girls goes missing, it is our family members, not law enforcement. that has to change. so it's not only a jurisdictional issue but the lack of response from the federal authorities who oftentimes do have jurisdiction and yet do nothing. another major issue that i have written about in my written testimony and what we recommend is more access to the national criminal information system. currently today, only 47 tribal nations have access to this data base. this is a critical tool any time a native woman goes missing or
murdered. their lack of access, only 47 out of the 573 federally recognized tribes. lack of resources, our tribes do not have adequate resources. we are working so hard to fund victim services because we have to fund -- we have to deal with it sexual assault. and those crimes escalate to murder and homicide. we need funding for our victim services. thank you for the opportunity to speak today. mr. gallego: we have tami jerue executive director of the alaskan women's resource center. ms. jerue: thank you for inviting me to testify. i'm an enrolled member of the
anvik tribe, a mother, grandmother and executive director of the alaskan resource center. this is a far too common occurance and received much attention due to many raised voices having put the issue in the public eye. mmiw didn't start a few years ago but happening since the first contact. there are many stories and experiences that have faced victimization because they are indigenous. they have suffered abuse because of a government system that fails in their legal trust and moral responsibility to assist indigenous nation. there are many stories such as the 20-year-old who traveled to fairbanks in 1993. she went to visit her friend at the university of alaska and left the room to go outside and never returned. she was eventually found,
sexually assaulted, stabbed multiple times, shot in the back of the head in a dormitory bathroom. for 25 years, there had been no justice and until recently, a d.n.a. was linked from a site which uses family history. the d.n.a. was linked to a student that attended the university and now a nurse working in maine. an arrest was made. however often, we have no choice and no closure with many of our women who die unexpected and unnaturally. the manner of deeth while it is considered suspicious and with visible injuries is classified as accidental, suicidal or undetermined. in a village, police suspected foul play, a 37-year-old on january 14, 2018. a year later, there is no
resolution. why is it that our women and families do not get the closure regarding cause of death that the germ population takes for granted. 40% of our communities have no law enforcement or have 911 services to speak of. who do they call? the first responders are volunteer medics whose first inclination is to address the injury and possibility there could be a crime committed is not even contemplated and a scene could be contaminated before a qualified individual can preserve the scene. tribal advocates are tasked to preserve crime scenes. i believe the simple but complicated question, the tragic truth is it impact of colonization and natural resources development have endangered alaskan native women and girls. the people coming into our lands
is the lack of infrastructure such as local police and services normally in place that offer protections and justice systems to hold prerp traitors do not exist. a mixed message is sent that it is ok to commit crimes against native people and there will be no consequences. sadly, the long history and belief that native people are less valuable as a barrier to land resource development, native women who are justified and considered with little no importance. as to the missing and murdered ersons, alaska has the highest numbers. areas that would decrease these statistics is to continue funding such as ourselves, which we are developing a community tool kit to engage when a person goes missing or dice. this will help communities respond.
we cannot wait for the state or federal government to act. we need a jurisdictional fix in which 228 out of 229 tribes are without territorial jurisdiction and regular and consistent justice and funding in alaska through the indian tribal support act. bipartisan group of co-sponsors in the senate has introduced an act which includes several provisions aimed at improving the response of cases of missing and murdered women. however, it is how it is written now would exclude after of the tribes' needs. provides effort for appropriate services to indigenous women. survivors including to the provision of victim services, rape crisis and transitional housing when women do not have it, they are placed at risk. bill house needs a
similar. program of research and regarding the disappearance and murders of native women, we need a baseline study for alaska as statistics prove it is different than in the lower 48. support tribal amendments to h.r. 1585, vital re-authorization including a pilot project where alaskan tribes can exercise criminal jurisdiction. there is a unique opportunity to recognize these issues and make corrections to the laws to support the nation's first peoples. mr. gallego: thank you to our witnesses.
i thank the expert witnesses for their powerful testimony. committee rule 3-e places a five-minute limit on questions. the chairman will recognize members for any questions they may wish to ask the witnesses. i will recognize myself for five minutes and alternate to our ranking member. that. ou for this has been very difficult for many of us to listen but very much necessary. professor deer, you mentioned the somp that. this body institute. what is the importance of having an organization work on projects relating to mmiw?
and how successful is this information to federal agencies? ms. deer: thank you for that question. i believe that it's critical that native people are at the forefront of this effort, even if we were to receive federal funding. it still should be that tribal members and families and survivors should drive the data collection. and one of the reasons is for cultural reasons, if someone is going to add the name of a missing loved one to a data set, there are sometimes the need for ceremony associated with that. so the federal government collecting the data not necessarily in the position of providing that. and so we do need -- while federal data would be helpful, i really believe that the forefront should be led by
indigenous women and their survivors. i think that nonprofits and partner with federal agencies, but on it needs to be on the terms of the indigenous people at the forefront. nd that will help our families feel comfortable in coming forward and sharing their story and sometimes it's been decades and don't believe anyone cares anymore. so we need to do that outreach that requires grassroots effort. mr. gallego: representative buffalo, you spoke about the progress of the bills on this issue in the north dakota legislature. n arizona, a bill to improve data unanimously passed the house this week. can you speak why it is important to address it?
buff buff mr. chairman and members -- ms. buffalo: it is important that all members of government pay attention to this issue because we have a larger population that lives off of the reservation or outside of the exterior boundaries of the indian reservation. that is why we are focusing on a state level to make sure that we implement mechanisms that will tell a story and will show that evidence that there is an issue here and we need to pay special attention to this epidemic. mr. gallego: ms. jerue, how does mmiw differ for alaskan tribes? and how does these differences impact your attempts to address the issue? ms. jerue: there are many jurisdictional issues than the lower 48. and those jurisdictional issues
impact in a couple of different ways. a lot of tribes are isolated. 229 tribes only one is recognized as a federally recognized tribes. the other 228 tribes are under the jurisdiction of the pl-280. so they are tasked with law enforcement and jurisdictional and justice systems through the state of alaska. at this point, because of the isolation of the tribes and the differences in temperatures of distances, the cost of those distances, it has recrited a mess in terms there are difficult times. joel jackson that you referred to from the nativeville age says they will get faster response for killing of a moose out of season than they will of a native woman. that's not just a story. and the problem is that law
enforcement -- the lack of law enforcement and justice systems in our communities really does create a crisis in terms of living in our isolated communities. unfortunately, we also have a large number of native people that live in the cities of anchorage, fairbanks and juneau. and the response tends to be i don't want to -- oftentimes, native women, if they have other issues, are often not taken seriously, especially if there has been some kind of crime against them and oftentimes there are many crimes against them. we have a vulnerable population in the cities and law enforcement's response also acks any real care oftentimes. mr. gallego: thank you. and i would like to recognize
mr. cook for his questions. mr. cook: thank you very much. once again, i want to thank the witnesses. wilson in the audience and a number of years ago, went down to cherokee, north carolina, where there was a play, native american play that i think he was the star of, but it was a great, great play to emphasize vawa, violence against women. and some of these things to outsiders, they don't see that. i think some of the things that you underscored we're all concerned about and the back of horrible. n, this is
now how are we going to correct this. and we talk about the differences and people are concerned about confidentiality and everything else. i think identifying the problem, getting law enforcement, all those things. a data base. there was a woman, i can't mcnamara, sheame, wasn't a police officer, but she wrote book about these killings in california, all over the place. and this one person, when you look at this, she passed away unfortunately and then her book became a best seller. and i'm trying to think and almost what i want from you, i understand the emotion and everything else. what i'm hoping is that the collective with wisdom here is you give us a battle plan, where we can turn it into action in
terms of constructive laws and policies that unite everybody. i just found out you wrote the play. [laughter] mr. cook: i'm just a dumb marine up here. indiscernible] mr. cook: you have a lot of supporters. i voted for vawa. and i'm not an attorney, i just want to do something in terms of how we can -- it's going to be very, very difficult, because just the circumstances and everything else. but you got right on your side,
istory on your side. and i wasn't alive in 1492, although some of my colleagues think so. i'm hoping we might have another round on this where we have justice and partly because -- i know we want their input. i want them to hear this testimony. and more advocates we have, it's a huge problem and not going away. and how we can correct this and get something done. so thank you. i want to apologize and i want to thank the chairman for embarrassing me in front of everybody. mr. gallego: that was my attempt to help you from embarrassing you. this isn't going to be the last time to address this. because this is a serious, serious problem. d when thousands of our u.s.
sisters go missing, it is irresponsible for us not to do something. with that, i would like to move cartwright entative for his questions. mr. cartwright: i thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to thank a moment to thank chairman gallego for calling this important hearing and also to my new colleague, hey land and called it an epidemic in her campaign. thank you for calling this hearing. my understanding and if i'm mistaken, my understanding is that victims of violence in tribal communities are often reluctant to report and share
information about crimes and that part of this is tied to the historical relationship between settlers and indigenous communities and that this is a particularly strong barrier in professor nities and and chief justice deer, can you give examples of what these historical concernsr how it plays out in present time and i'm particularly interested in the difference between rural and urban communities. ms. deer: thank you for the question. i think the historical mistrust that many native people have in law enforcement are well founded. the history of law enforcement in indian country has not been one necessarily of protection but one of persecution. and when you are a native woman
and your sisters and your aunts and mother, grandmother and great-grandmother have all been victims of violence and nobody's done anything, why would you come forward? and i think that trust has to be built. not going to happen in one bill or one year. that trust is going to take years and years and years to rebuild. the challenge in the urban environment is that native women, particularly if she is not the perfect victim like elizabeth smart or had an addiction problem or homeless or maybe her children have been taken to her and go to urban or off-reservation police department, families tell us, what did you expect? then the family is left feeling as though nobody cares. so both on reservation and off
reservation, we need to cultivate a culture of compassion and understanding. and not you can do through legislation but with the leadership, we will begin to see a sea change in that problem. >> representative buffalo you spoke about a couple of issues i'm interested in, data and training. we're interested in ways these concerns can be overcome. what you said in your testimony, without data there's no clear evidence that a problem exists. so what can we do to improve our data collection systems. for example you suggest in your testimony that the language of mmiw be included in the scope of work for the office on violence against women and the office for victims of crime. what i'm after here is, can you
give us specific examples of language you think should be sed. ms. buffalo: thank you, it's unfortunate that we have to ask to have the language of indigenous women, girls, and people. i will say that first. and foremost. but also you know, our efforts on the ground level, at the grassroots level, are grassroots and for prevention, how can we prevent these tragedies from further occurring but we do have to address existing structures and what systems are currently in place. so we do need to include, we believe this language of missing and murdered indigenous people. 5 the -- at the sate level -- at the state level what we found
digging keep entire the data collection statewide, north dakota does not currently collect any data on missing people. so that was -- >> we'll talk further about the language and i thank you for the suggestions. i also understand you proposed legislation to conduct training or law enforcement in your legislature. what are some of the topics that you think this training should focus on? ms. buffalo: mr. cartwright and members of the committee, at the state level with the training, we are tapping into existing structures such as the north dakota human trafficking commission, so that commission is comprised of different experts in the field. so this legislation is giving freedom to to provides -- to provide that training for law enforce.
. within that commission, the human trafficking commission, there's members of the first nations women's alliance, who have established and built relationships throughout north dakota and the region. so some of this training would look at perhaps cultural competency training. understanding the differences within tribes. some that are matriarchal, just understanding, finding ways to build trust and work toward healing -- healing and justice in our communities. >> thank you so much. yield back, mr. chairman. mr. gallego: thank you, representative cartwright. i'd like to recognize the chairman of the natural resources committee, congressman grijalva. mr. grijalva: thank you, mr. chairman, this hearing has been powerful and necessary. i want to thank the witnesses for their insight, their expertise, and more importantly for humanizing what we're
talking about today. it is not nearly, as one said, a question of numbers or where they fit in it's a question of lives, i appreciate that i think one of the things the full committee and all of us who -- they want n it to have their voices or garner attention that those issues demand. your subcommittee, mr. chairman and ranking member, have done that. this is a good example with this hearing, i appreciate it very uch, all of us do. let me just ask a couple of uestions if i may. at yesterday's violence against
women markup, an amendment would punishing -- it failed on a party line vote. on this level it requires that everyone be involved in it. there's a bipartisan issue this congress here and this subcommittee. i want to know how does that -- how is that going to impact the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women if you don't ind. >> thank you, mr. grijalva. yesterday's amendment was disappointing to see. ms. nagle: it was a huge step to
save manager lifes. there are native women today who have stated publicly and will can't to do so that since restoration of tribal criminal jurisdiction over those three crimes in 2013, their lives have been saved. had that not been restored, their tribal government would not have been able to intervene and prosecute the domestic violence crimes or violations of their protection order and save their lives. we know that. we know giving the tribal government closest to the ground is the best form of security a native woman can have. it's very disappointing to see. also i will say in adig to it being disappointing that anyone would suggest rolling back the progress that's happened in the last five or six years is the only statement that was made in support of the amendment was that simply tribal jurisdiction and prosecuting of nonindians in tribal courts is unconstitutional. that was the same rhetoric that was given in 2013 against vawa,
based on a prejudicial view that tribal courts must be incompetent and can't adjew jude kate rights of nonnative defendants. the implementation of the 2013 restored criminal justice system shows not a single nonindian defendant despite numerous cases from numerous tribes lodged any formal complaints about any rights violations in tribal courts. these are prejudicial beliefs that are not founded on any actual facts and reality. at the end of the day the concern is just if the tribal jurisdiction is stripped away hat will put more -- mr. grijalva: all the witnesses in their own way referenced the
ct that the urban residents, indigenous folk, tribal affiliation and their role in this process. urban indian centers, like the tucson indian cent wrer i'm from, the tribal indian center, pieces of legislation related to the issue we're talking about are they important conduits? important afill yages? anyone who wants to can answer. >> i believe yes that urban centers, urban indian centers should be included in all our discussions around. this i grew up in wichita, kansas my father was on the board of the first american indian center there in wichita. i know that was sort of a place of refuge for many people. a place where people could find one another. and i think if we're talking about who is going to be eligible for funding, should fund being appropriated for this
crisis, i think we should consider the possibility that urban indian centers be provided with funding so that they can support the families and the tissue in the urban areas. mr. grijalva: thank you for the indulgence, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. 's my pleasure to -- mr. gallego: it's my pleasure to pass to ms. haaland. ms. haaland: before we get started, i wanted to ask you to explain the significance of the cloth you have on the table. >> representative hawland, members of the committee -- haland, members of the committee -- haaland, members of the committee this skirt was handmade by an individual named agnes woodward. she's originally from canada and
she's ed to a citizen, made i believe a handful of these skirts globally and they represent our missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. our sisters. and she was directly impacted by , her aunt is among the missing and murdered indigenous women. so we wear these ribbon skirts in honor of our missing and murdered indigenous women and e ribbon skirts also are a sign, they represent prayer because we are a prayerful people. thank you. ms. haaland: thank you. thank you so much. the silent crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women has been my top priority since long before being sworn in to congress and i am appreciative
that i am here today to hear your testimony. to help find solutions to this long overdue issue in indian country. i'm wearing red today in honor of missing and murdered indigenous women and so i wanted to mention that. indigenous women deserve to be protect just like anyone else in this country. that's why i've been working with my colleagues on provide prg text for women and support for safety incruding the survive act, increasing resource for tribal victims through the crime victims a fund to extend protections to children and law enforcement personnel involved in demest exviolence incidents on tribal land. and suzanne in a's act to increase accountability among
tate, federal and tribal and address missing and murdered indigenous women. i want to thank each and every up with of our witnesses who have provided testimony to move this conversation forward to protect our women. yesterday, we had a prime example of how native women have historically lacked representation and protections in the united states congress and how we must continue to fight for basic protections that are afforded to other groups of people. our chairman mentioned this. as many of you know, during the violence against women re-authorization markup hearing in the house judiciary yesterday, representative sensenbrenner attempted to amend the bill to wipe out tribal jurisdiction to exclude tribes from prosecuting nonindians who commit violence against women related crimes against women on tribal lands. although this corrosive amendment was rejected, the vote
was split across party lines and speaks exactly to the issue we are working to highlight today. for any congressional leader to attempt to take away protections for not only women but indigenous women at a time when we are just beginning to understand how deep rooted and serious of an issue the severe lack of protections are for native women is an abomination. as a member of the united states congress, we all take an oath thatter bound by to support and defend the constitution, a constitution that acknowledges that tribal governments are sovereign nations. nd i take this oath seriously. because every congressional leader has the responsibility to uphold the federal government's trust responsibility. i just want to say thank you, professor deer, for raising the issue of colonyization because it has wreaked havoc on our eople.
y pueblo people are also matrili nembings al and at times it seems we are living in colonyization because women are excluded for so many things. thank you, representative bowel, for running and winning your seat. you were meant to serve. and i'm inspired by the vast amount of that you've already done since you've bhn in your seat so thank you so much for that but all of your work is so important and i'm grateful for every single thing all of you have done to raise this issue and i want you to know i stand behind you 100%. mr. gallego: i yield representative haaland as much ime as she deserves.
ms.haaland: i'll start with jerue. you talked act the jurisdictional maze. do you believe this emboldens criminals to commit and recommit crimes on crible lands without the fear of being held account snble does this criminal activity bleed over into urban areas as well? ms. jerue: i believe. so this is my opinion, i believe that our jurisdiction, because of the land issue which is extremely complicated, that i don't even have -- we have weeks it is ths to talk about, extremely complicated in alaska. but in urban areas there is an nderlying, i think, culture, that native people because of what was referred to earlier in terms of some of them not being perfect victims, end up finding themselves in situations that
they're vulnerable. homeless. addiction. lack of jobs and housing. and oftentimes native people in our communities are being brought into the urban areas because there's lack of jobs and housing, law enforcement, adick types of services or medical services in our communities and so they end up finding themselves in situations that they didn't plan to be in. so law ep forcement and justice systems because those systems are overburdened with the just vast number of native people that are in those systems, our child welfare systems, our court system, our jail system, and law enforcement's system -- law enforce. systems are overburdened with native citizens in alaska and urban areas. and because of their vulnerability and because of what i spoke to, that oftentimes those vulnerabilities also speak to the fact that they're not
being investigated, i think, appropriately. and they're also not being, when we talk about data, they're -- the data is not being collected on these issue -- on these issues because we know data drives a lot the funding that would help mitigate some of the problems. unfortunately, it's not my favorite subject, but it is a reality that we have to deal with. so i don't know if that answered your question. ms. haaland: thank you so much. thank you. this question is for professor deer, in december i attended the senate hearing on missing and murdered indigenous women and heard from a young woman that law enforcement agencies and f.b.i. have continuously failed at investigating these crimes. i also heard this issue again from a young woman who visited my office. what should congress do to ensure the f.b.i. and local law enforcement are properly investigating these crimes and acting timely on the cases? and before you answer i'd just
like to raise the issue that the f.b.i. got its start solving murders in indian country, the osage murders so it seems to me that tts perfectly logical for them to dig in on this issue and find a solution to it. so please answer. ms. deer: thank you, it's an honor, it's an honor to be asked a question by you right now. i think we need to require federal law enforcement, i mean the transparency is needed. require federal law enforcement agencies to track the number of mmiw reported in their jurisdiction and include that in the required annual tribal law and order act reports that are already required. i think we should require our federal law enforcement agencies to share information about missing and murdered indigenous women with tribal nations. so if a native person goes mising in a city or outside tribal jurisdiction, then we
would ask the respect of tribal nations are entitled to know their sit are missing, so that communication happening into the tribal leadership. we need federal law enforcement agencies, including the f.b.i. to start accurately logging race and tribal affiliation in their database of missing persons. i think any new funding for federal agencies must require that they develop protocols for responding to missing persons cases with meaningful consultation with the tribal nations that they serve. thank you. ms. haaland: thank you so much. mr. chairman, i yield. mr. gallego: thank you, representative. thank you to our witnesses. we are near the end of our hearing. votes are also been called and this is why some members have left.
not -- out of abundance of caution, i want to make sure to say that. i hope we all gained valuable insight into the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women, its tragic effects on indigenous people and their communities and what is being done or not done to combat this issue and what we need to do in real world legislative solutions, we need to find real world legislative solutions. it is clear that women and girls in native american communities are not receiving the support, attention and resources long overdue to them to actualize awareness and tangible solutions. the federal government, us, must live up to its trust responsibility and work toward real solutions and true partnership with indigenous women on local, regional, and national levels to fully address what we have heard here today. in closing, let me again thank the expert witnesses for their valuable testimony and members for their questions. the members of this committee
may have some additional questions for the witnesses and we will ask you to respond to those in writing. just for me personal note, i'm deeply sorry that we in congress have not addressed this for so long. it is a tragedy, it is a sin that we have done and we need to do everything we can to fix this. under committee rule 30, members of the committee must submit questions within three business and the he hearing record will be [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]