The crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women

The response to a disproportionate problem is falling short.

 

Indian Country News is a weekly note from NewTowncarShare News, as we continue to broaden our coverage of tribal affairs across the West.

May 5 marks the . While the 2016 #NoDAPL and #MeToo movements have helped bring attention to Indigenous and women’s issues in general, little has been done at a policy level to address the high numbers of women who go missing in Indian Country.

U.S. Congress , but change has been slow, and the scope of the problem is only now being better understood. In Washington state, Native Americans make up less than 2 percent of the population, but they represent more than 5 percent of its missing persons cases. Nationally, it is non-Native men who commit the majority of assaults against Native women. State lawmakers are . The legislation’s main supporter, State Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, wants local law enforcement and the state government to work with and share data with tribal police departments. “There’s currently no comprehensive data collection system for reporting or tracking missing Native American women,” McCabe told Crosscut. “That’s a travesty, and I know Washington can do better.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee met with tribal leaders in 2016, including Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman Brian Cladoosby. In March 2018, Inslee signed a bill to assist with the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Washington isn’t the only place where contributes to the problem of violence against Native women. Tribal prosecutors and law enforcement lack the jurisdiction to try non-Native men who perpetrate violence against Indigenous women in tribal lands, . It was not until 2013 that a provision in the Violence Against Women Act in cases of domestic violence. But the provision is limited. The law only gives tribal courts jurisdiction to prosecute non-tribal citizens for a narrow set of crimes, which do not include “crimes against children, law enforcement personnel, and sexual assault crimes committed by strangers.”

So far, the provision has not been widely adopted by tribal governments. this year found that only 18 tribes have utilized Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction, . Many tribes reported they were unable to participate because of a lack of funding. “Tribes express continued frustration at their inability to prosecute these crimes — many of which occur in conjunction with a domestic violence offense — often with dangerous and devastating consequences for victims,” the NCAI reported.

But to get back some of that sovereign authority, tribes also have to give some up. When VAWA became law in 2013, it also required juries to have a fair cross-section of the public, meaning tribal courts have to allow non-tribal citizens to serve on juries, which prompts some obvious questions. “How do we, as an Indian tribe, want to open up our court system to non-Indians?” Assistant Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation Chrissi Nimmo . “It’s always been Cherokees. How do we carve out this special seating?”

Within the 18 tribal nations exercising special jurisdiction in cases of domestic violence, NCAI reports 74 convictions of abusers over the past five years. That’s a measure of success, yes, but there are 567 federally recognized tribes in this country. Imagine how many more convictions we would see if even half of those nations participated. Imagine the message that would send to non-Native men who see Indigenous women as easy prey. Imagine how many of those men would be taken off the streets. I don’t know about you, but Im tired of imagining.

Wado.

Graham Lee Brewer is a contributing editor at NewTowncarShare News and a member of the Cherokee Nation.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • HawkWatch International seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our awesome team! This position will provide support in all aspects of the department. We are looking...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING IN TAOS, NEW MEXICO www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a...
  • will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details:
  • on ten acres. Full view of the Grand Teton. 35 miles to Yellowstone and 20 minutes to Grand Targhee Ski Area.
  • Must see for sng/extd fam or corp retreat in pines! $1,030,000
  • The American Forest Foundation seeks a smart and highly motivated candidate to join our Western conservation team. The Regional Manager supports the Regional Director to...
  • Exciting opportunity to lead the charge on meeting the future transportation demands of our community! This position will develop, coordinate, and implement the Integrated Transportation...
  • with Robert Michael Pyle September 26-30, 2018, in Missoula MT.
  • Boise State Public Radio is hiring a Reporting Fellow as part of a new nationwide collaborative, Guns & America. Based in the state capitol, Boise...
  • Middle Colorado Watershed Council. Rifle, CO.
  • RiversEdge West is seeking an entrepreneurial leader with solid nonprofit management skills to lead our high functioning team and help us make an impact on...
  • Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a talented, organized person with great people skills, who is passionate about protection of the natural environment to work...
  • The Wilderness Society is recruiting for an experienced Communicator for our Northwest Region. This position is located in Seattle, WA. For more information please visit...
  • Here is an opportunity to have a piece of self-sufficient paradise on Idaho's Main Salmon River adjacent to the largest Forest Service wilderness area in...
  • in 5-home conservation community & botanical sanctuary on 20 acres.
  • The Montana Wildlife Federation is looking for an enthusiastic and innovative Membership and Engagement Coordinator to help grow and maintain our grassroots voice for wildife,...
  • The City of Fort Collins is excited to announce a Sr Environmental Planner position within the Natural Areas Department. This position will be housed within...
  • on beautiful Snow Angel Ranch located within San Juan National Forest near Pagosa Springs, CO. Lakes, fly-fishing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, horse trails, horse accommodations...
  • 5 acres, well. Abuts Carson NF; hike fish ski; deer turkey elk.