Task Force to Study Crime on Indian Reservations

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive


The announcement, made by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. this week, comes amid a surge of violence on many Indian reservations and complaints that federal law enforcement officials, who are responsible for investigating and prosecuting most major crimes in Indian Country, have done too little to address the problem.

A report last December by the Justice Department concluded that American Indian and Alaska Native children “have an exceptional degree of unmet needs for services and support to prevent and respond to the extreme levels of violence they experience.”

On Wednesday, during the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, in which leaders of the 566 federally recognized Native American tribes met with members of the Obama administration, Mr. Holder told tribal members that the federal government would not “tolerate a world in which nearly half of all Indian women and girls” have been raped, beaten or stalked by an intimate partner.

“We simply cannot stand for such an unjust and unacceptable status quo any longer,” he said. “And, as our record proves, we will not stand for it.”

The 12-member task force will be led by Byron Dorgan, a Democrat and former United States senator from North Dakota who served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Joanne Shenandoah, a singer and member of the Oneida Nation. Other members include Eddie Brown of the Pascua Yaqui Indian Tribe, who is executive director of the American Indian Policy Institute and a professor at Arizona State University, and Valerie Davidson, a senior director of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage.

The task force’s first hearing is scheduled for Dec. 6 in Bismarck, N.D., and will be followed next year by meetings in Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Anchorage. Once the hearings conclude, the task force will make policy recommendations to the Justice Department, officials said.