October 6, 2017 | The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing: “The GAO Reports on Human Trafficking of American Indian and Alaska Natives in the United States” on September 27, 2017 to examine two separate reports published by the General Accountability Office in 2017.
The first report, “Human Trafficking: Action Needed to Identify the Number of Native American Victims Receiving Federally-funded Services,” was published in March, and examines Native American human trafficking and recommends that the Department of Justice require its grantees to report the number of Native American victims served. The second report, “Human Trafficking: Information on Cases in Indian Country or that Involved Native Americans,” was published in July and, though it does not make specific recommendations in the report, the GAO found that 27 of 132 (or 20 percent) of tribal law enforcement agencies and 6 of 61 (or 10 percent) of major city law enforcement agencies reported initiating investigations that involved human trafficking of at least one Native American victim from 2014 to 2016.
The reports demonstrate that human trafficking – the exploitation of a person typically through force, fraud, or coercion for such purposes as forced labor, involuntary servitude or commercial sex – is occurring in Indian country.
Panelists included Ms. Gretta Goodwin, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Mr. Tracy Toulou, Director, Office of Tribal Justice, U.S. Department of Justice; Mr. Jason Thompson, Acting Deputy Director – Justice Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior; Ms. Nicole Matthews, Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition; and Mrs. Cindy McCain, Arizona Govenor’s Human Trafficking Council, Phoenix.