Nov 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden signs order to address epidemic of murdered, missing Indigenous people

Biden speaks at the White House
Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order Monday directing federal agencies to design a strategy to address the epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous people, the White House said.

Driving the news: The order is part of a slew of announcements expected this week as the White House hosts the first Tribal Nations summit since 2016.

  • The administration will reveal new steps to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans, as well as better protection of private lands, treaty rights and sacred places, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Friday.

The big picture: The new order tasks the departments of Justice, Interior and Homeland Security to create a strategy to address specific law enforcement issues and to provide support to Tribal Nations as they implement tribally centered responses, according to the White House.

  • The order also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to help develop plans for violence prevention and survivor support initiatives, per the fact sheet.

State of play: In April, the Department of Interior created a new unit to support investigations into missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.

  • Approximately 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native missing person cases have been reported to the National Crime Information Center, and about 2,700 cases of murder and nonnegligent homicide offenses have been reported to the federal government, according to the Interior Department.
  • Yes, but: Data collection limitations mean the number of murdered and missing Indigenous people is likely much higher, Indigenous groups and advocates say.
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