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Joe Biden has pledged to prioritize the growing issue of murdered or missing Native American women and girls in his latest presidential proclamation.
Posted a day before Murdered Indigenous People Awareness Day on May 5, it promises to tackle the problem of the thousands of Indigenous women abducted or murdered across the United States.
“Our failure to allocate the necessary resources and mobilize the commitment necessary to face and prevent this ongoing tragedy not only undermines the dignity and humanity of every missing and murdered person, but it sends pain and shock waves in our tribal communities, ”Mr. Biden said in his proclamation.
In recent years, May 5 has been named Murdered Indigenous People Awareness Day after more defenders raised awareness of the epidemic currently plaguing their communities.
In the United States, homicide is the third leading cause of death among Native American women. They are also murdered at a rate as high as 10 times the average U.S. resident, according to the Department of Justice.
More than 5,000 indigenous women are missing and about 56% have been victims of domestic violence.
Although this issue has been increasingly covered in recent years, experts have argued that violence against Indigenous women dates back decades.
Deb Haaland, secretary of Mr. Biden’s Home Department, made history by becoming the first Native American to serve as cabinet secretary. Previously, she called violence against indigenous women an epidemic.
“The epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women has been overlooked for too long, but we are finally giving a voice to this silent crisis. When your community is in danger – when it could be your daughter, sister or mother – the matter demands an emergency, ”Ms. Haaland wrote in an editorial in Indigenous News Online in 2019. At the time, she was a member of Congress.
“The attention this issue has garnered would not have been possible without the women of Indian Country who were saying, ‘Enough is enough, we deserve to feel safe too.’ It was a call to Congress to devote real resources to the problem, ”she added.
Two weeks after Ms Haaland was confirmed as Home Secretary, her office announced the formation of a new Missing and Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The MMU will be responsible for using federal resources to support investigations into unresolved cases of missing and murdered negative Americans, while also assisting active investigations. This unit was based on a task force created in 2019 under the Trump administration and called Operation Lady Justice.
Advocates supported increasing resources to investigate current and unresolved cases, but they also called for federal government support to prevent future incidents and help communities move forward.
“I am further committed to addressing the underlying causes of these numbers, including – among others – sexual violence, human trafficking, domestic violence, violent crime, systemic racism, economic disparities, substance use and addiction, ”Biden said in the proclamation. .
“The challenges in tribal communities are best met by solutions that are informed and shaped by tribal leaders and tribal governments,” he added.
As part of Mr. Biden’s proposed US bailout, Native American tribes and territories would receive $ 35 million in grants that would provide “temporary housing, assistance and support services to victims of domestic and dating violence “. But it would be up to Congress to decide whether this funding will receive enough votes.
“I call on all Americans and ask all levels of government to support the efforts of tribal governments and tribal communities to increase awareness of the issue of missing and murdered Native Americans and Alaska Natives through programs and appropriate activities, ”Biden said.
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