Haaland Announces Indian Affairs Bureau Missing and Murdered Unit

April 21, 2021 by Reece Nations
Haaland Announces Indian Affairs Bureau Missing and Murdered Unit
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland listens to tribal leaders and jots down notes during a round-table discussion at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced a new division of the Missing and Murdered Unit will operate within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services.

The new unit will direct federal resources in unsolved investigations into cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Haaland, the nation’s first Indigenous cabinet secretary, said Tuesday during a House Budget Committee hearing, the unit will improve the Indian Affairs Bureau’s coordination with other departments.

Haaland’s announcement is a continuation of a task force initiative conceived during the Trump administration known as “Operation Lady Justice.” Haaland said in her testimony before the committee the unit will have its budget increased from $1 million to $6 million. 

“Violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades. Far too often, murders and missing persons cases in Indian country go unsolved and unaddressed, leaving families and communities devastated,” Haaland said in a written statement. “The new MMU unit will provide the resources and leadership to prioritize these cases and coordinate resources to hold people accountable, keep our communities safe, and provide closure for families.”

Although around 1,500 cases of missing American Indian and Alaska Native people have been reported to the National Crime Information Center, the majority of cases are believed to go undocumented, according to analysis by the Urban Indian Health Institute. In addition to reviewing the unsolved cases, the unit will coordinate efforts with investigators from the FBI, Indian Affairs Bureau and Tribal governments for active investigations. 

American Indian women are murdered at a rate that is roughly 10 times the national average in some counties, according to Department of Justice analysis. Further, 84.3% of American Indian and Alaska Native women have been victims of violence in their lifetime, and 56.1% have been victims of sexual assault in their lifetime, according to the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center. 

The multi-agency unit intends to address the crisis by gathering intelligence on active cases, reviewing and prioritizing cases for investigative teams’ assignments, developing plans to direct investigators, and identifying and coordinating outside resources that are beneficial to investigative efforts. In addition, the unit will also coordinate with other stakeholders, prepare investigative reports, analyze current missing-person protocols, and develop missing-person response guidelines. 

“Whether it’s a missing family member or a homicide investigation, these efforts will be all hands-on deck,” Haaland continued in her statement. “We are fully committed to assisting Tribal communities with these investigations, and the MMU will leverage every resource available to be a force-multiplier in preventing these cases from becoming cold case investigations.” 

A+
a-
  • Deb Haaland
  • Indian Affairs
  • Interior Department
  • missing and murdered
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Interior

    Judge Dismisses Native American Challenge to $10B SunZia Energy Transmission Project in Arizona

    A U.S. district judge has dismissed claims by Native American tribes and environmentalists who sought to halt construction along part... Read More

    A U.S. district judge has dismissed claims by Native American tribes and environmentalists who sought to halt construction along part of a $10 billion energy transmission line that will carry wind-generated electricity from New Mexico to customers as far away as California. Judge Jennifer Zipps said... Read More

    April 24, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Haaland Announces Five-Year Schedule for Offshore Wind Lease Sale

    NEW ORLEANS — The Biden administration will hold up to a dozen offshore wind energy lease sales through 2028, Interior... Read More

    NEW ORLEANS — The Biden administration will hold up to a dozen offshore wind energy lease sales through 2028, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Wednesday morning. In remarks at the International Partnering Forum conference in New Orleans, Haaland said the prospective sales, which will be overseen... Read More

    Biden Administration Restricts Oil and Gas Leasing in 13M Acres of Alaska's Petroleum Reserve

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Biden administration said Friday it will restrict new oil and gas leasing on 13 million... Read More

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Biden administration said Friday it will restrict new oil and gas leasing on 13 million acres (5.3 million hectares) of a federal petroleum reserve in Alaska to help protect wildlife such as caribou and polar bears as the Arctic continues to... Read More

    April 11, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Administration Promoting ‘Responsible’ Clean Energy Projects on Public Lands

    WASHINGTON — The Biden-Harris administration on Thursday unveiled the latest steps it is taking to promote responsible clean energy development... Read More

    WASHINGTON — The Biden-Harris administration on Thursday unveiled the latest steps it is taking to promote responsible clean energy development on public lands while continuing to nudge the nation closer to the president’s goal of creating a carbon-free energy sector by 2035. Since President Joe Biden... Read More

    Uranium Being Mined Near Grand Canyon as Prices Soar and US Pushes for More Nuclear Power

    The largest uranium producer in the United States is ramping up work just south of Grand Canyon National Park on... Read More

    The largest uranium producer in the United States is ramping up work just south of Grand Canyon National Park on a long-contested project that largely has sat dormant since the 1980s. The work is unfolding as global instability and growing demand drive uranium prices higher. The... Read More

    As Work Begins on Largest US Dam Removal Project, Tribes Look to Future of Growth

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The largest dam removal project in United States history is underway along the California-Oregon border — a process... Read More

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The largest dam removal project in United States history is underway along the California-Oregon border — a process that won't conclude until the end of next year with the help of heavy machinery and explosives. But in some ways, removing the dams is the... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top