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Rep. Gallego Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Address the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

April 2, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), and Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA) introduced the Studying Missing and Murdered Indian Crisis Act of 2019.

Last month, the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples held the first-ever hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives on missing and murdered indigenous women. During the hearing, native women testified about the epidemic of violence affecting American Indian and Alaska Native women – including murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average – and the U.S. government’s inadequate response to the crisis.

The Studying Missing and Murdered Indian Crisis Act would direct the GAO to submit a report on the response of law enforcement agencies to reports of missing or murdered Indians, including recommendations for legislative solutions. Senator Tester has introduced an identical bill with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate.

“This bill will help us understand some of the deeply rooted issues that keep Native American communities from receiving the support and resources they need to combat this crisis and what Congress can do to change that,” said Rep. Gallego, Chairman of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples. “We cannot continue to be silent and inactive in the face of this horrific violence directed at Indigenous communities. I am proud to join my colleagues in taking this important step to address this crisis.”

“This legislation will help us learn more about the root of this troubling problem. Too many Native American women have been the victims of violent crime and not enough is being done about it. I hope that this study will begin to shed light on this crisis so that we can address it properly and prevent additional tragedies in the future,” said Rep. Paul Cook, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples.

“To tackle any issue you have to start with a full understanding of the problem, but when it comes to missing and murdered indigenous women, we have a serious lack of data. This bill will task the appropriate agencies with gathering and studying the crisis, so we can get the full picture of what is happening. It will help us find solutions to address what’s happening now and prevent future tragedies and violence against native women,” said Rep. Deb Haaland, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

“The Studying Missing and Murdered Indian Crisis Act rightly acknowledges that you cannot fully address a problem without first determining the cause of the issue. The disproportionate rates of murder and disappearance among Native Americans is an alarming problem that we must address. By first studying the issue more closely, I believe we can craft the right solutions to combat a truly heartbreaking problem facing communities across Indian Country,” said Rep. Tom Cole, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.