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Federal Task Force To Address Crime Epidemic Against Native Women And Girls

Reprinted with permission from The American Independent.

Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday creating a White House task force on missing and slain American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The task force will be overseen by Attorney General William Barr and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. It will develop protocols to apply to new and unsolved case and create a multi-jurisdictional team to review cold cases.

Trump called the scourge facing American Indian women and girls “sobering and heartbreaking.”

“We will leverage every resource we have to bring safety to our tribal communities, and we will not waver in this mission,” Trump said. “We’re taking this very seriously.”

Trump’s announcement comes days after Barr said the Justice Department would invest $1.5 million to hire specialized coordinators in 11 U.S. attorney’s offices with significant caseloads from Indian Country to come up with ways to better respond to missing persons cases and committed FBI resources. Barr said the agency also would do an in-depth analysis of federal databases and its own data collection process.

The National Institute of Justice estimates that 1.5 million American Indian women have experienced violence in their lifetime, including many who are victims of sexual violence. On some reservations, federal studies have shown women are killed at a rate over 10 times the national average.

The executive order also directs the Justice Department to make grant funding available to improve public safety in tribal communities.

Trump was joined by representatives of the Navajo Nation, which extends into New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah; the Crow Nation in Montana; and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota.

Fond du Lac Chairman Kevin DuPuis highlighted women as caretakers of children and tribal villages and said it’s imperative that they be protected and not treated as second-class citizens.

“It’s very, very important that we, as a people, have a true identity,” he said. “And when we lose our women and we lose our children, that goes with them.”

The Seattle Indian Health Board urged the Trump administration to keep in mind that a majority of American Indians live off reservations.

“This action is a step in the right direction, but we look forward to seeing additional steps that are inclusive of urban Indian people,” the board’s chief research officer, Abigail Echo-Hawk, said in a statement.

The task force expires after two years. It is expected to report on its work in a year.

Trump Officials Exclude Native Tribes In Bears Ears Monument Debate

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Federal law requires our government to consult with Native American tribes about the Bears Ears monument in southern Utah. But Donald Trump is only giving lip service at best to attempts to consult the NavajoHopi, and others about what was once the second-largest national monument in the lower 48 states before Trump shrunk it by 85 percent.

Now, the public has less than a week to file public comments on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s plan that could turn could add more ATV trails and approve cell phone towers and utility lines to what are now two smaller monuments. Bernhardt has appointed an advisory committee that doesn’t include anyone who supported creating the monument in the first place.

“The BLM and the Forest Service are asking people who don’t think the monument should exist for advice on how to manage it,” said Josh Ewing, executive director of Friends of Cedar Mesa.

Bears Ears, named after twin peaks that look like the ears of a bear, has about 9,000 recorded archaeological sites, including petroglyphs, woven cloth, human remains, and ancient roads.

Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke trimmed Bears Ears from 1.35 million acres to 201,876 acres, eliminating Cedar Mesa with its cliff ruins and rock art. He also took out Grand Gulch, a canyon, and other places that five native American tribes wanted protected when they urged former President Barack Obama to create the monument.

The management plan would allow “chaining,” a practice favored by Utah ranchers to clear land for cattle grazing.

“Bears Ears is not the kind of place for chaining thousands of acres of forest or stringing up utility lines,” said Heidi McIntosh of Earthjustice, one of the parties involved in the Indian tribes’ federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over shrinking Bears Ears.

Bernhardt appointed rancher Gail Johnson who holds a grazing allotment that was entirely within the original monument to a Bears Ears advisory group. Johnson and her husband, Sandy, have intervened in the lawsuits challenging Trump’s shrinking Bears Ears, arguing that a larger monument would put them out of business.

Bernhardt also appointed San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams and Ryan Benally, the son of former County Commissioner Rebecca Benally to the panel. San Juan County, the poorest county in Utah, paid $485,600 to a Louisiana law firm to oppose Bears Ears being named a national monument and then to lobby for reducing it.

Bernhardt did not appoint any of the seven people recommended by Rupert Steele, the chairman of the Utah Tribal Leaders Association. Steele’s picks included Navajo medicine man Jonah Yellowman and Kevin Madalena, a paleontologist from the Pueblo of Jemez, N.M.

Danziger: Gone Native

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.