Help Bring Attention and Resources to Missing and Murdered Native Women

The video and information below about the huge numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) is stunning. The video offers some explanations of why so little attention has been, and continues to be paid to this horrible situation.

 

I did not become aware of this myself until I had opportunities to spend time with Native Americans in Indianapolis, and this past year in Iowa.

I recently shared some of what I learned. Christine Nobiss and Donnielle Wanatee spoke about this when we were in Minneapolis this past February to bring attention to U.S. Bank’s continued funding of fossil fuel projects.

Christine also spoke at some of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign events.

This became personal to me as I learned more about it from my new friend, Matt Lone Bear during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. He told me about his work using drones to search for missing people, including at least one person close to him. People like Matt spend months and months searching. That is also highlighted in the video above. Matt has so much experience doing this that he plans to work on a manual for others to use as they do their own searches.

Also on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, Foxy Onefeather carried a sign about missing and murdered Indigenous women.

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Foxy Onefeather, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women


Here is the link to a good resource, the Seeding Sovereignty website:  https://seedingsovereignty.org/mmiw/


Christine Ashley of the Quaker lobby organization, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) alerted me to the following letter from Representative Tom O’Halleran. You can help by asking your member of Congress to co-sponsor the SURVIVE Act.  http://dearcolleague.us/2017/12/co-sponsor-bipartisan-survive-act-4/

Sending Office: Honorable Tom O’Halleran
Sent By:
Maggie.Farry@mail.house.gov

Support Victims of Crime Across Indian Country

Co-Sponsor Bipartisan SURVIVE Act

Dear Colleague,

As a former law enforcement officer, ensuring victims of domestic violence and crime have the resources they need to seek justice has always been a critical priority. Today, too many victims in vulnerable communities struggle to access vital services and supports they need. Nowhere is the need for increased access to services greater than across Indian Country.

According to federal data, American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities face some of the highest victimization rates in the country. Unfortunately, less than 0.7% of the Crime Victim’s Fund (CVF) established by the Victims of Crime Act reaches Indian tribes. This important funding provides victim services including crisis intervention, emergency shelter, medical costs, and counseling.

Currently, VOCA does not incorporate tribal governments for victim assistance and victim compensation formula grant programs. If we want to tackle the unacceptable disparities facing these communities, we need to make sure victims have equitable access to the critical resources VOCA funds support.

That is why I have introduced the bipartisan Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act. This bill would create a tribal grant program within the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime and require a 5% allocation from the CVF be provided to Indian tribes. It would expand the use of CVF funds for domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling, legal assistance and services, and child and elder abuse programs to enable tribes to deliver critical services to their
communities.

My legislation is the House companion to the bipartisan SURVIVE Act in the Senate, S. 1870, sponsored by Sen. Hoeven. These identical bills are supported by the Navajo Nation, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), United Tribes of North Dakota, Confederated Tribes of Colville Reservation, and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe.

For questions or to co-sponsor this important legislation, please contact Maggie Farry (maggie.farry@mail.house.gov) in my office.

Sincerely,

TOM O’HALLERAN

Member of Congress


https://www.fcnl.org/updates/washington-interfaith-staff-coalition-s-letter-to-support-the-survive-act-1547

July 5, 2018

Washington Interfaith Staff Coalition’s Letter to Support The Survive Act

The Native American Working Group of the Washington Interfaith Staff Coalition recently lobbied the House Judiciary Committee to support the SURVIVE Act. Here’s what the Working Group submitted.

As faith-based advocacy organizations and service providers committed to uplifting Native American concerns, we write to you to ask you to support the Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act, H.R. 4608.

We are members of the Washington Interfaith Staff Community (WISC) Native American Working Group, composed of faith based organizations from a broad range of religious traditions, and we are committed to the well-being of all our neighbors. We are led not only by compassion, but also by a sense of justice, acknowledging the historic role of faith groups and others in restricting the cultural and economic cohesion of Indian nations here on this continent. We seek to heal our connections with Native people, and to ensure Congress upholds its trust responsibilities with tribes. Congress has an obligation to provide the resources needed to enable tribes to self-govern and to effectively deliver essential services to tribal communities.

The Department of Justice has found that on some reservations, the murder rates of Native women are ten times the national average. 83% of American Indian and Alaska Native adults have experienced violence in their lifetime. Native communities face some of the highest crime victimization rates in the country yet many of these victims are less likely to access victim services.

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) was enacted in 1984 and established the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). This Fund establishes grant funding to support victim services such as domestic violence shelters, counseling, and court advocacy. In addition to services, the Fund provides victims compensation to cover medical care, funeral and burial costs, and lost wages. The CVF is funded only though the money the government collects from criminal fines and penalties. Prior to FY 2018, tribes have only indirectly received funding which amount to less than 0.7% of available funds.

Each year, tribes have had to lobby through the budget appropriations process to receive funding, but this strategy is only a temporary fix for a significant need. Tribes require a permanent, authorized set aside from the Crime Victims Fund, which is why we’re asking you to support the (HR. 4608/S. 1870) SURVIVE Act.

We support the SURVIVE Act because it amends the VOCA to include tribes in grant funding, and provides a 5% set aside for tribes. Having access to the CVF will improve the safety of tribal communities and provide needed resources for Native victims of crime.

This bill has strong bipartisan support, and will provide equal access to the Fund without increasing overall spending. Grant funding will go towards culturally-appropriate victim services such as domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling, and crisis intervention and prevention. It will be instrumental for improving safety in tribal communities and helping Native victims of crime in this current epidemic of violence, especially against Native women.

We believe the SURVIVE Act’s creation of a long-term support mechanism for victim services will both prevent crime and violence, and will help victims heal. It is a long-due step forward for the safety of Native peoples, and we urge you to support this important bill.

Sincerely,

Washington Interfaith Staff Coalition (WISC)
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Office of Justice and Ecology, Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States
Franciscan Action Network
Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Ecumenical Poverty Initiative
Islamic Society of North America
Disciples Center for Public Witness (Disciples of Christ)
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
American Friends Service Committee
National Council of Churches


Washington, DC (July 30, 2018) – The Quaker lobby, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) called on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (H.R. 6545). Led by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), the bill seeks to expand protections to women victims of violence.

Contact: Adlai Amor, Friends Committee on National Legislation, media@fcnl.org; 202-903-2536

“The Violence Against Women Act is particularly significant to Native women and girls across the nation,” said Diane Randall, Executive Secretary for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “We welcome this initiative and urge the House to swiftly reauthorize H.R. 6545.”

Native women experience violent crimes at disproportionately higher rates than other women in the United States. While the federal government has jurisdiction in Indian Country, it lacks the resources to effectively prosecute crimes. Non-Native offenders regularly avoid prosecution for sexual assault and domestic violence.

With over 100 cosponsors among House Democrats, the bill will improve tribal access to federal crime information and standardize protocols for responding to cases of missing and murdered Native peoples. The current bill expires on Sept. 30, 2018.

The bill also extends tribal jurisdiction to include sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, child violence and violence against tribal law enforcement attempting to execute these provisions.

“If passed, the bill will be a huge win for Indian country, as more than half of American Indian and Alaska Native women experience sexual violence in their lifetime,” said Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco (Shinnecock/Kiowa), FCNL’s Advocate for Native American Policy. “Safety from violent crimes should not be a privilege but for too long, many Native women have gone unprotected by the law.”

In addition to advocating for the Violence Against Women Act, FCNL has also been a strong advocate for a bill to address the crisis of missing and murdered Native women. If passed, Savanna’s Act (S.1942/H.R.4485) will create a standard protocol for law enforcement and expands tribal access to criminal databases.

FCNL has also been a strong advocate for the SURVIVE Act (S.1870/H.R.4443) which authorizes a permanent five percent tribal set-aside in the Crime Victims Fund.

For more information, please visit www.fcnl.org.

https://www.fcnl.org/updates/quaker-lobby-urges-lawmakers-to-reauthorize-violence-against-women-act-1579


Support a tribal set-aside of the crime victims fund

https://www.fcnl.org/updates/support-a-tribal-set-aside-of-the-crime-victims-fund-1475


 

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