Anishinaabek Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party
President of the Bay Mills Indian Community, Whitney Gravelle, and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Chairperson, Aaron Payment, came together on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 to unveil their Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Tribal Community Response Plans. The ceremony included support from speakers U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, U.S. Attorney for Western Michigan Andrew Byerly Birge, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Senator Gary Peters. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) plan, commonly referred to as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), now includes all persons. "Today, we collectively commit to ensuring equality in our responses to violence committed against all genders. We will no longer promote gender stereotypes." explained Jami Moran, Program Services Director for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Advocacy Resource Center.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons crisis has torn apart the Native American communities for centuries. Statistics show that 84% of Native American women will experience violence in their lifetime. Additionally, 55% will experience physical or sexual abuse from their significant others. Native people make up 40% of sex trafficking victims while the same group comprises of merely 10% of the United states population. President Gravelle voiced that this Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons crisis has been largely ignored by the general public for a variety of reasons: complex jurisdictional schemes exist for Tribal Nations, Natives have been forbidden from prosecuting Non-Native perpetrators for forty years because of U.S. law, lack of resources from the U.S. government that vowed safety in the Treaties, and lapses of laws designed to help victims such as the Violence Against Women Act.
Chairperson Aaron Payment told the group that the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons tribal response pilot is the most comprehensive plan thus far and encourages other tribes to use it to create their own response plans. This tribal response plan involves a central database amongst all local, state and federal jurisdictions for expedient data collection and expanded resources that will provide for evidence based decision making and enable law enforcement to conduct an objective investigation free of bias. "Victims of violence matter. It doesn't matter the situation that puts them at risk but they matter. It's important to say their name. They are real, living, breathing people. They are someone's sister, auntie or grandmother or brother or someone transitioning. They deserve our love and respect, not our judgment" said Chairman Payment.
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Law Enforcement Chief Robert Marchand and Bay Mills Indian Community Law Enforcement Chief Ron Carrick presented an overview of each Tribe’s Community Response Plan. The response plan includes a collaborative, comprehensive law enforcement response, compassionate, cultural honoring victim services, timely and accurate media and public communications, and proactive community outreach partnerships.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Tribal Community Response Plan empowers Tribal Nations and other organizations to work together to protect the Native American people. "We cannot allow these cases to continue to go unresolved, unsolved and unaddressed, leaving our families and communities devastated with a piece of themselves missing," President Gravelle concluded.