The four Native American members of the U.S. House of Representatives have joined forces to address the silent crisis of violence against indigenous women.
Oklahoma Republican U.S. Reps. Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin joined Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., and Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kan., in introducing the bipartisan Not Invisible Act, which directs the Departments of Interior and Justice to coordinate a more aggressive federal response to violence against Native American and Alaskan Native women.
A joint advisory committee would bring together the FBI, tribal law enforcement, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, crime survivors and other law enforcement and mental health agencies to come up with a more effective strategy for dealing with disappearances and murders of indigenous women.
The National Institute of Justice estimates that 56% of American Indian and Alaskan Native women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes. Murder is the third leading cause of death among indigenous women, and too often Native American women simply disappear without anyone making an effective effort to find them.
This is not just a reservation issue. The Urban Indian Health Institute has identified 506 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women across 71 urban cities.
In a recent column in The Guardian, Haaland said in Indian country, it is often days before law enforcement shows up for a missing person call or homicide report.
In a recent tweet, Cole referred to the situation as an “epidemic of violence in Indian Country” with “urgent need for solutions.”
We agree and salute the American Indian members of Congress for joining forces to bring attention to a troubling problem and demanding solutions.