Chair Grijalva Statement on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on President Joe Biden’s proclamation designating May 5, 2022, as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Awareness Day. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland also announced members of the newly established Not Invisible Act Commission, which will advise DOI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on best practices for combatting the MMIP epidemic and supporting survivors and their families.

“The crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous Persons has devastated families across the country—and a history of inaction on the part of the Justice Department has left them without recourse, resolution, or justice,” Chair Grijalva said. “I’m proud of the work my friend Secretary Haaland has done both in her time on the Committee and in this administration to elevate the issue and ensure that real, meaningful progress is taking place. The survivors and families of these horrific crimes deserve to be recognized and heard. Today’s actions are a step toward making that happen.”

During the 116th Congress, under the leadership of Chair Grijalva and then-Committee Vice Chair Deb Haaland, the Committee held the first hearing in congressional history to examine the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis. The Committee held a second hearing to examine the Trump administration’s failed response in addressing the issue.

In October 2020, following the Committee’s hearings, Congress passed the Not Invisible Act, which establishes an advisory commission of survivors and family members to address MMIW, and Savanna’s Act which clarifies the federal government’s responsibilities in addressing the crisis. Both bills were later signed into law.

Last November, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report initially requested by Chair Grijalva and 16 other members of Congress, which found that MMIW cases are often underreported due to mistrust of law enforcement, a lack of intergovernmental coordination, and a shortage of accurate data.

The Biden administration has taken several actions to address the MMIP crisis. President Biden signed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act into law, which expands the definition of domestic violence to include violence against, or witnessed by, children under the age of 18 and “elders” defined by tribal law, and also alleviates the costs that tribal governments incur when expanding their criminal jurisdictions. In April 2021, Sec. Haaland announced the creation of a Missing & Murdered Unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services.

Last year, Chair Grijalva led 17 members of Congress to introduce a bipartisan resolution to recognize May 5 as a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

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