ST. PAUL — President Donald Trump's move to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women is a good first step, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said, but more can be done to protect them.
The response came Wednesday, Nov. 27, days after Trump issued an executive order creating a task force to address the national crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. States and local governing bodies have taken the step to launch their own studies ahead of the federal action.
But the move at the federal level is set to bring in multiple agencies to set clearer protocols for investigating unsolved cases and setting up a team to review cold cases.
"This task force is an important first step, but there are additional things that the president can do to ensure our women are seen, heard and valued and that Native people are respected and protected," Flanagan, the first indigenous woman to hold statewide office in Minnesota, told reporters.
She said Trump and the U.S. Senate should also support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the reauthorization but that measure hasn't yet come up in the Senate, as Republicans said they're working on a proposal that could pass there.
"We have the task force but we also need to make sure that Native women are seen, heard and valued by the United States Senate," Flanagan said. "Currently, the way that the Republicans have presented it, it still keeps Native women at risk."
Native American women experience violence at higher rates than any other race, the National Congress of American Indians reports. And over 80% of American Indian and Alaska Native women have reported that they've experienced violence.
Minnesota's Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is set to meet for a second time next month. The group in 2020 must deliver a report to the Legislature laying out recommendations to reduce and end violence against indigenous women and girls.