Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee
Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today led 17 members of Congress in introducing a bipartisan resolution designating May 5 as a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The resolution and related efforts to combat the silent crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIW) were designed in collaboration with seven national tribal organizations, each of which endorse Grijalva’s resolution.
“The violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls is an epidemic that requires our attention and urgent action,” said Chair Grijalva. “This resolution recognizes and honors Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or have been murdered with a national day not just of recognition, but of solidarity. The House Committee on Natural Resources is committed to providing adequate resources and removing systemic barriers that prevent tribal governments from addressing this crisis. We have held hearings, listened to Indigenous women, and assisted in passing bills to address this silent crisis. I am grateful for the Biden-Harris administration and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s partnership as they bring this issue to the forefront of our national awareness. We must work together to hold accountable the people and systems that have failed to protect Indigenous women and girls.”
Chair Grijalva’s video address commemorating the National Day of Awareness for Missing, and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is available at https://youtu.be/UrnFCKQWgE8.
In the 116th Congress, the Committee held the first-ever House hearing to address the MMIW crisis and review the Trump administration’s historic failure on this issue. In October 2020, following these hearings, Congress passed Savanna’s Act, a bill that requires the federal government to account for the numbers of missing and murdered Native Americans, and the Not Invisible Act, which establishes an advisory commission of survivors and family members to address missing and murdered Native Americans.
Chair Grijalva joined fellow members of Congress in requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examine how federal agencies respond to the MMIW crisis on a national scale. This study is ongoing, and its preliminary conclusions will be made available to the Chair later this year.
In the 117th Congress, House Democrats are continuing their work to help end the disproportionate cycle of violence against Indigenous women. The House recently passed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021, a bill that expands the definition of domestic violence to include violence against, or witnessed by, children under the age of 18 and “elders” defined by tribal law, and alleviates the costs that tribal governments incur when expanding their criminal jurisdictions.
In April 2021, Sec. Haaland, the former Vice Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, announced the creation of a Missing & Murdered Unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services. This unit will coordinate federal resources to investigate the long-overlooked and widespread Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women cases.
Committee Members recorded a video in support of the National Day of Solidarity for MMIWG.
Cosponsors of Grijalva’s resolution include representatives Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), and Norma Torres (D-Calif.).
Endorsing organizations include the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center, the Alaska Native Women's Resource Center, the National Congress of American Indians, the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, Pouhana O Na Wahine, the Alliance of Tribal Coalitions to End Violence, and the United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund.
Statements Supporting the Grijalva Resolution
“The current reports of abduction and murder of Native women are alarming, with murder rates as high as ten times the national average in some tribal communities. The National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) provides a process for public healing and accountability, and a way to honor American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women and girls who have been abducted, murdered, or have gone missing. Turning our grief into action, NIWRC strongly supports the designation of May 5, 2021 as the National Day of Awareness for MMIWG and we call on all those concerned for the safety of Indigenous women to support this day by organizing at the local, tribal, state, national, and international levels to call for systemic change.” - Cherrah Giles, Muscogee (Creek), Board Chairwoman, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
“I fully support and applaud Chair Grijalva’s resolution designating May 5, 2021 as the “National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.” The intersection of violence against Indigenous women and MMIWG is not new. This crisis is a continuation of a historical pattern of violence committed against Indigenous women, girls and Tribal Nations. Great appreciation for the tireless work of Tribal Nations, survivors, family members, grassroots organizations and advocates like Rep. Grijalva that work tirelessly to ensure that there is a continuation of efforts through awareness, policies, and legislation that address violence against women and girls and reforms that translates to actual safety for Indigenous women and girls.” - Shannon Holsey, NCAI VAWA Co-Chair and Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes Secretary
“The disproportionately high rate at which Native American women and girls experience violent crime in the United States is unconscionable. While awareness is critical, the federal government, in partnership with Tribal Nations, must do more to address the shameful disregard for missing and murdered Native women and girls. This includes ensuring our inherent sovereign rights and authorities, including criminal jurisdiction, are more fully recognized and respected. Our lost sisters, mothers, and daughters cannot remain invisible and forgotten, as Tribal Nations work to navigate the jurisdictional maze that has grown up around Indian Country and the United States turns a blind eye. As Native people, our creator calls upon us to honor the many sacred roles women and girls play in our societies, as well as protect their right to live free of violence. We continue to support the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and call upon Congress for the immediate passage of legislation aimed at empowering Tribal Nations, honoring the trust obligation, and ending this crisis.” - Chief Kirk Francis, United South and Eastern Tribes, Sovereignty Protection Fund President.