DOI meets with tribal leaders to discuss public safety in round table
Gila River Indian News
The U.S. Department of Interior held a listening session with tribal leaders on June 11. The Gila River Indian Community hosted the discussion “Reclaiming Our Native Communities,” which focused on cold cases, violent crimes, and missing and murdered Native Americans.
GRIC was well represented with Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, Lt. Gov. Robert Stone, Community Council representatives and Miss Gila River Tyler Owens who joined the session. Lt. Governor began the session with a prayer and traditional song.
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) introduced “Performance Measurables: begin investigation on unsolved missing and murdered cases and assign task force teams. Develop and implement task force’s work, develop standard operating procedures for task force operations, collect information on unsolved homicide and missing person cases from BIA, FBI and tribal law enforcement. Develop an annual report outlining the successes and lessons learned for each task force discipline.”
While asking the questions “how to partner together?” “what are our solutions?” “how can we further incorporate tribal law enforcement and strengthen reporting measures?”
Every tribe has their own reporting system to the BIA. Most agreed that there was not enough funding for public safety and many of the tribes dealt with issues such as I.T. infrastructures for data, dead zone areas for cell phones if there is an emergency and the issue of rural addressing.
Edward Manuel, Tohono O’odham Nation, discussed how a woman’s group turned to their tribal police for data on violence against O’odham women and children, that brought up 34 cases, with most of those crimes happening off tribal lands.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President, Martin Harvier brought up the possibility for tribal law enforcement between the four sister tribes to share information.
“Today was about hearing from tribal leadership, Indian Country, advocates, and communities,” said Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.
Members of the session included: Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation President Bernadine Burnette, Pascua Yaqui Tribe Chairman Robert Valencia, Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman Robert Miguel, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Violence Against Women Task Force Co-Chair, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Chairman Mark Fox, Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice, and Confederated Tribes of Chehalis Reservation Chief Judge Michelle Demmert, Cook Inlet Tribal Council President Gloria O’Neill, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition Executive Director Nicole Matthews, and staff from the Office of Governor Doug Ducey and Office of U.S. Senator Martha McSally.