President Donald Trump signed an executive order in November that sought to “address the legitimate concerns of American Indian and Alaska Native communities regarding missing and murdered people — particularly missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.”
At the time, his move attracted little media attention. That did not deter his administration from taking further action, though, as revealed this week.
“The staggering number of violent crimes”
During an event in Minnesota this week, officials announced the opening of offices as part of Operation Lady Justice, which is described as a task force dedicated to preventing murder and abduction.
The Department of Interior expounded on the parameters of its latest mission in a press release.
“President Trump created a task force to support Tribal communities, reduce the staggering number of violent crimes committed against American Indians and Alaska Natives and closeout hundreds of cold cases,” said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
He went on to assert that the Trump administration “is committed to justice and working alongside these Tribal communities to restore peace and prosperity.”
Tara Katuk Sweeney, the first Alaska Native and the second woman to serve as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, provided further support for the scope of the new operation.
“More than 10 times the national average”
“Today’s opening of the first Missing and Murdered Native Americans Cold Case office demonstrates the commitment of the Operation Lady Justice Task Force to achieving the mandate set out for it under President Trump’s executive order,” she said. “Cold cases in Indian Country will be addressed with determination and the understanding that the victims in these cases will be accorded some measure of dignity and compassion — not only for them, but for their survivors, as well.”
White House adviser Ivanka Trump also serves on the task force and declared that there are “two top priorities for the administration: The Pledge to America’s Workers and supporting American Indian and Alaska Native communities.”
The new initiative will further “President Trump’s commitment to forgotten men and women across our country and the Administration’s efforts to ensure that all Americans can live with dignity and the promise of a brighter future,” she added.
This task force will address a longstanding issue, as the U.S. Department of Justice found in a 2012 report that concluded “Native American women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average” on some reservations.
Whether the media paid any attention to Trump’s executive order or not, this week’s actions signaled that he was sincere in his effort to help bring a disturbing trend to an end among the nation’s indigenous communities.