Missing but not forgotten

Today is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Mary Kathryn Nagle joins us to talk about the continuing crisis. Plus, friend of the show Holly Cook Macarro is back to share a political rundown of Washington, D.C
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Native women face murder rates more than 10 times the national average. More than 5,000 American Indian and Alaska Native women are missing. And 55 percent of Native women have experienced domestic violence, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Joining us today is Cherokee citizen Mary Kathryn Nagle. She’s a partner at Pipestem and Nagle. She represents the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and works on issues facing women. Mary Kathryn has written and produced several plays relating to Indians and the law.

And also joining us today is Red Lake Band of Ojibwe citizen Holly Cook Macarro. A partner at Spirit Rock Consulting, she's worked for tribal nations for more than 20 years. Holly is a regular contributor to Indian Country Today and today she breaks down what’s going on in the nation's capital.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico is dropping its lawsuit against the Indian Health Service in exchange for restoring its local hospital. 
  • The Blackfeet Nation in Montana is helping its neighbors by handing out vaccines to residents in Canada. 
  • Indigenous members of Mexico's Zapatista movement are setting sail to invade Spain, symbolically. 
  • A landmark ruling in New Mexico sets the standard for high speed internet for public schools. 
  • In an effort to promote peace and healing, the city of Harrisville, Utah replaced a monument that honors a Shohone Chief. 
  • Washington state is replacing the statue of an Oregon Trail pioneer and missionary with another that honors a Native American leader.

Find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show.

Mary Kathryn Nagle:

"There's been a lot of advocacy at the grassroots level for generations on this issue. And of course we all know this violence begins. Native women began with the colonial conquest of our nations and violence against our women was a very strategic tactic use to conquer our nations. And unfortunately because that violence has never been directly addressed, we're still dealing with it today. Today, we have had progress. Folks are probably familiar with laws like Savannah's Act, Not Invisible Act, and those are wonderful achievements and those are achievements made possible through the advocacy of our tribal leaders, victims, families, victims, advocates, native women, spokeswomen out there who have been fighting for this issue."

"I think what's important to remember is that those laws specifically that I just mentioned that were signed into law last October, do not restore the criminal jurisdiction that the Supreme court erased in Oliphant, which severely limits the ability of tribal nations to arrest and criminally prosecute homicides committed against tribal citizens, Native women on tribal lands if they're committed by a non-Indian, which many of them are. And also does not provide funding for tribal law enforcement, tribal courts, victim services, tribal governmental institutions. And that's another issue that we faced in Indian Country is lack of resources."

"It's also an issue that we're hearing from many federal law enforcement agencies as well who claim that they cannot investigate these cases because they simply do not have the law enforcement personnel on ground. So I think moving forward, one thing that we're really advocating for us first and foremost, just restoration of tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction full stop so that our tribal nations can fully protect anyone living within their borders as is their inherent sovereign right to do so. And we're also looking for greater funding, but also to at the end of the day, collaboration and dedication. I think that the FBI , the United States attorney's offices, I think have a federal trust duty and responsibility from the hundreds and hundreds of treaties they signed with our tribal nations to investigate and prosecute these cases."

Holly Cook Macarro:

"The statutory deadline, per the American Rescue Plan, they had 60 days to come up with a formula methodology to determine how they were going to divide that money and get it out to tribes. And the statutory deadline is May 10th. The Bureau of Indian Affairs announced last week, what their formula methodology would be for the funds that are flowing through the agency at the Department of Interior. But what all of Indian Country is waiting for is what the formula will be to distribute the $20 billion dollars that is going out directly to tribal governments."

"Similar to the $8 billion dollars that was in the CARES Act that we saw with the immediate impacts on the ground. So tribal leadership, there were four consultations and tribes from around the country weighed in with how their recommendations on how they thought those funds should be distributed. I think it's clear based on the fact that the Department of Interior did a data call for tribes to submit and self-certify their enrollment numbers. And that was that was a key point of contention from Indian Country last time."

"Because they use the Indian housing block rent numbers, which were not accurate in many cases for the subject of litigation that had major action last week as in the Shawnee case. There were several other factors that were recommended by tribal leadership with some variations from around the country. So I think it's clear, population will be one of the factors. There was discussion and recommendations that economic factors be included in the last round, the economic factors that were included were number of employees and the tribal government budgets and disbursements in 2019, the pre-pandemic numbers."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider

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