November 16, 2021 - This week, President Biden fulfilled his campaign promise to revive — after a four-year absence — the annual White House Tribal Nations Summit established during the Obama Administration. On November 15, 2021, President Biden also took an important Presidential Action, issuing an Executive Order on Improving Public Safety and Criminal Justice for Native Americans and Addressing the Crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People. Recognizing that Native Americans experience unacceptably high levels of violence at rates much higher than the national average, the Executive Order explicitly makes the safety and well-being of Native Americans a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration.
Section 1 of the Executive Order states that:
Generations of Native Americans have experienced violence or mourned a missing or murdered family member or loved one, and the lasting impacts of such tragedies are felt throughout the country. ...Native American women, in particular, are disproportionately the victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including intimate partner homicide. Research shows that approximately half of Native American women have experienced sexual violence and that approximately half have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner. ...And the vast majority of Native American survivors report being victimized by a non-Native American individual.
The Executive Order outlines a policy to work with Tribal Nations to strengthen criminal justice and safety in Indian country and beyond, to reduce the crisis of violence against Native people, and to ensure swift effective federal responses to missing and murdered indigenous people. Specifically, the Attorney General and Secretary of the Interior are directed to develop a broad coordinated federal enforcement strategy on addressing violence against Native Americans as well as unsolved cases, to support tribal and other non-federal law enforcement efforts to prevent and respond to violence against Native Americans, and to improve data collection and information sharing practices including the long needed expansion of tribes able to participate in the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information. The Executive Order also seeks to strengthen prevention and victim and survivor services. Finally, the Executive Order requires timely consultations with Tribal Nations on implementation of the order.