Office of Minnesota State Representative Carlos Mariani (DFL - 65B)
Yesterday, the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee reviewed the final report from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Task Force. Created by the Legislature in 2019, the task force was charged with helping the state better understand the causes of violence against Indigenous women and to develop recommendations to reduce and prevent violence where it is happening. The task force included members of the Indigenous community, law enforcement, policymakers and the public.
“I want to thank everyone who served on the task force for their extensive research to address an endemic that has largely gone ignored far too long. There are many deep complexities to this issue as our tribal communities have been desperate for both answers and action,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani, the committee chair. “The legislation to create a task force passed on a bipartisan basis, and now in this committee, we must similarly work together to take what we’ve learned from these recommendations and develop the programming, training, awareness, and other critical solutions to ensure Indigenous women and girls can live with the human rights and dignity they deserve. This issue shows that no matter where you live, whether in Greater Minnesota or the Twin Cities, your safety is the whole state’s concern.”
Among the report’s findings are:
- Historical and ongoing colonization, racism, and sexual objectification of Indigenous women and girls
- Jurisdictional complexity and lack of understanding in tribal-county-state relations contribute to MMIW cases falling through the cracks
- Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people are not at increased risk of violence because of individual “risky behaviors” or “poor choices,” but rather because systemic risk factors such as poverty and homelessness, child welfare involvement, domestic violence, and sex trafficking and prostitution place them in dangerous situations
- Inadequate response from law enforcement and social services agencies to missing Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people in Minnesota hinders the chances that women will be given effective healing services or found alive
- Deaths of Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people from Minnesota are not always thoroughly investigated
- Perpetrators of MMIW crimes are not consistently prosecuted and sentenced
- Racism leads to lack of media coverage of MMIW cases; existing coverage reinforces stereotypes and stigma
- Inaccessible and fragmented data systems impede investigations and identification of MMIW
Video of the hearing will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.