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Haaland appoints members to commission on missing and murdered Native Americans

Haaland appoints members to commission on missing and murdered Native Americans
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the appointment of nearly 40 members to the Not Invisible Act Commission which seeks to respond to missing and murdered Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on Thursday announced the appointment of nearly 40 people to a federal commission to improve government response to missing and murdered Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

During a virtual event Haaland announced the members of the Not Invisible Act Commission, a cross-jurisdictional advisory committee made up of law enforcement, Tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, family members of missing and murdered individuals and survivors of violence.

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"Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, but a lack of urgency, transparency and coordination have hampered our country's efforts to combat violence against American Indians and Alaska Natives," Haaland said in a statement. "As we work with the Department of Justice to prioritize the missing and murdered Indigenous people's crisis, the Not Invisible Act Commission will help address the underlying roots of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples crisis by ensuring the voices of those impacted by violence against Native people are included in our quest to implement solutions."

The commission was established under the Not Invisible Act, which Haaland sponsored during her time in Congress and was signed into law in October 2020.

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However, the seats of the commission remained empty until Thursday, prompting some lawmakers to criticize the Biden administration for failing to move to form the commission and allow it to get to work.

Now that it has been seated, the commission will identify, report and respond to instances of missing and murdered Indigenous peoples cases and human trafficking, develop legislative and administrative changes necessary to combat the crisis and increase information sharing with Tribal governments on the issue.

It will also have the authority to hold hearings, gather testimony and receive evidence and feedback from its members to provide recommendations to Haaland and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

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"I wish we didn't need to be here," Haaland said. "I wish that this day was obsolete, that we didn't have to keep fighting year after year for our people to be honored and respected."

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