Missing & Murdered Indigenous Peoples field hearing comes to Az in May
As part of the U.S. departments of the Interior and Justice’s work to combat the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP), the Not Invisible Act Commission will be hosting its first round of field hearing sessions this spring.
The hearings allow commission members to hear directly from Indigenous communities impacted by the MMIP crisis. One of those hearings will be held in Flagstaff in May.
“This work requires each of us to face our own trauma, to relive unimaginable pain, and visualize a future in which our loved ones are safe, and our communities have closure,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. “We’re here for our children, grandchildren, and relatives we have yet to meet.”
The Not Invisible Act of 2019 was signed into law in October 2020. It is the first bill in history to be introduced and passed by four U.S. congressional members who are enrolled in federally recognized tribes. Haaland, one of those four, spearheaded the bill during her time in Congress.
“A lack of urgency, transparency, and coordination has hampered our country’s efforts to combat violence against American Indian and Alaska Native people,” Haaland said during the establishment of the Not Invisible Act.
“In partnership with the Justice Department and with extensive engagement with Tribes and other stakeholders, the Interior Department is marshaling our resources to finally address the crisis of violence against Indigenous peoples,” she added.
The commission established by the Not Invisible Act is a cross-jurisdictional advisory committee composed of federal and non-federal members, including law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, family members of missing and murdered individuals, and survivors.
“This work is urgently needed and requires all of us working collaboratively,” Haaland said. “I am so grateful to the Commission for the work they are doing and the lasting impact they will have.”
The commission recommends that the Departments of the Interior and Justice improve intergovernmental coordination and establish best practices for state, tribal, and federal law enforcement. They work to bolster resources for survivors and victims’ families and combat the epidemic of missing persons, murder, and trafficking of Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people.
“The Justice Department is steadfast in our pledge to work with Tribal governments in preventing and responding to the violence that has disproportionately harmed Tribal communities,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. “We are committed to listening and being responsive to what our partners have to say.”
The commission has selected specific locations to hold field hearings this year to hear directly from the public in some communities most affected by the MMIP crisis.
In April, the commission will hold field hearings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Anchorage, Alaska. In June, more hearings are scheduled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, northern California and Albuquerque, New Mexico. In July, a hearing will be held in Billings, Montana. A national, virtual field hearing is also planned for later in the summer.
These field hearings will feature panel discussions and a public comment period. More details about the topics covered for the hearing will be made available to the public as the date of each hearing approaches. Each location will have trauma-informed mental health professionals available.
This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.