Deb Halaand, the first Indigenous cabinet secretary in U.S. history, says the task force will investigate the 1,500 unsolved cases as well as thousands of other missing and murdered investigations. In 2008, the Justice Department found that Native women on some tribal lands were murdered at more than 10 times the national average.
Under a 1994 law, the federal government can seek the death penalty for murders on Indian reservations committed by tribal members only if the tribe agrees. The Navajo Nation opposed capital punishment in this case, but prosecutors invoked a different law not requiring tribal approval.
Native American leaders and activists welcomed a Supreme Court decision deeming that much of eastern Oklahoma is Indian land as a long-overdue relaxation of “hostility” by the federal courts to tribal jurisdiction claims.
National Guard troops and state police have been called in to enforce a strict lockdown order in Gallup, N.M., site of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S., at the nation’s largest Indian reservation.
Researchers say native women often are misclassified as Hispanic or Asian or other racial categories on missing-persons forms, and that thousands have been left off a federal missing-persons database.A federal task force is working on improving cooperation among law enforcement agencies.
For justice-involved members of the Chippewa nation in northern Minnesota, the judicial system has failed to tackle the “historical traumas” that have mired them in substance abuse and other ills. But tribal and state authorities are collaborating on a plan to apply traditional tribal notions of restorative justice to their needs.