Trump establishes task force on missing and murdered Alaska Native women and children

Published: Nov. 26, 2019 at 10:42 PM AKST
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On Tuesday, a busy day at the White House, and big promises from the president: President Donald Trump, with the stroke of a pen on a new executive order, has officially established a task force designed specifically to take a closer look - and hopefully, action - on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

"We're taking this seriously," Trump said during the signing, nothing that such an action through executive order has never happened before. The Department of Justice, he said, will be issuing additional grants to "improve safety in Native American communities."

"We will leverage every resource we have to bring safety to our tribal communities, and we will not waiver in this mission," he said.

Via executive order, Trump created the White House task force on missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women and children to be overseen in part by Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt as well as U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who visited Alaska this past summer and expressed dismay at the state of safety in rural areas of the state.

"The Alaska Native people are a great people," Barr said during his visit,

"and the system isn't working for them in the law enforcement front."

The Urban Indian Health Institute reports that in 2016 alone, there were at least 5,712 reports nationwide of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and children. A 2019 report from the group also says the State of Alaska Department of Public Safety estimated between 800 and 1,200 homicides of Alaska Native women since 1940. These numbers have not been independently verified by KTUU.

Still, many hopes come with the executive action: Solve the many recent and cold cases of violence against women and children in Alaskan communities, and maybe even protect the next generations from a similar fate.

"t's a tremendous problem, it's been going on for a long time - many, many decades, beyond that," the president said, "and we're going to address it, and address it very strongly."

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