Native Women Missing

The lack of media attention over reports of the missing black girls in America resulted in public outrage a few years ago, with 75,000 girls reported missing in 2017. White girls receive a media frenzy when they go missing. Native American women get nothing.

I stumbled upon a report of our missing native women that I didn’t even know existed because it received little to no attention at all from the mainstream news. More than 5,700 Native American women were reported missing in 2016, and only 116 of those cases were logged into the Justice Department’s database. To address this issue, before her seat was defeated in last year’s midterm elections, former Senator of Montana Heidi Heitkamp introduced Savannah’s Act, a bill that helps law enforcement keep track of missing and murdered native women. Unfortunately, the bill was blocked by the house but the Justice Department announced it would invest $113 million in grants to combat violent crimes against women in the American Indian and Alaskan native communities.

Native women are 10 times more likely to be murdered than women in any other race. A 2016 National Institute of Justice study revealed that half of all native women have been sexually assaulted, a third have been raped in their lifetime, and native women are more likely to be raped by white or other non-native men. A 1978 Supreme Court decision prevents non-native perpetrators from being arrested or prosecuted by tribal or even State authorities. Federal authorities can prosecute non-native rapists, but according to the Government Accountability Office in 2010, two-thirds of the cases sent from Tribal law enforcement to federal authorities were dismissed by federal prosecutors.

This is a crisis. Our native women deserve better. They deserve for their perpetrators, of any racial background, to be prosecuted and not dismissed. They deserve for all of their missing cases to be entered into the Justice Department’s database, and they deserve protection from the epidemic of violence against them. These women, like all women, need justice. The way this country has treated our native people is abominable.