U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines released the following statement after his bipartisan amendment to promote tribes’ access to national criminal databases passed the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. This amendment, which supports tribes’ participation in the Tribal Access Program (TAP), is part of his greater effort to reduce the number of native women and girls who go missing or are murdered.
“We must curb the tragic epidemic of native women and girls who go missing or are murdered and strengthen tribes’ ability to keep their citizens safe,” said Daines. “Sovereignty and security go hand in hand.”
The bipartisan amendment was cosponsored by Senator Tina Smith (MN).
The vote culminated a full week of Daines’ work to support Montana’s Indian tribes.
Resolution Designating National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls
On Monday, Sens. Daines led a bipartisan coalition of their colleagues in introducing a resolution to designate May 5 as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.
The resolution honors the memory of Hanna Harris, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, who was murdered in July 2013. The resolution seeks to commemorate the lives of all missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered.
The Senate unanimously passed Daines’ similar resolution in 2017. On May 5, 2017, which would have been Hanna Harris’ 25th birthday, Daines walked in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Walk on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation with Hanna Harris’ mother.
Daines also recently introduced the Mitigating the Methamphetamine Epidemic and Promoting Tribal Health Act, or the Mitigating METH Act, legislation to help combat the meth epidemic and strengthen public safety in Montana and within tribal communities.
Strengthening Tribal Education
On Wednesday, Daines met with representatives of Montana’s tribes as part of the National Indian Education Association’s Annual Hill Day.
The Senate recently passed Daines’ resolution to designate the week beginning on February 11, 2018, as ‘‘National Tribal Colleges and Universities Week.”
Statements of Support:
Amendment to Strengthen Tribal Security:
“The repurposing of the tribal registry funds will support and increase the number of Indian tribes able to participate in TAP and as a result enhance the safety of American Indian women.” - National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center Executive Director Lucy Simpson
“The TAP program has shown great promise in finally allowing tribal governments to share and access information alongside their state and federal counterparts. Securing additional funding for the TAP Program and ensuring that it is open to all Indian tribes is crucial. We believe that DOJ’s transfer request will help achieve both of these goals. We look forward to working with your office to move this issue forward.” - National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jacqueline Pata
“Repurposing the funds allocated for the tribal registries will allow the funds to support urgently needed resources to expand the TAP program.” - Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center Executive Director Tami Truett Jerue
“The Central Council of Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) offers its support to repurpose the funds authorized and appropriated under VAWA 2005 Safety for Indian Women Title to create a tribal Domestic Violence Protection Order and Sex Offender database, specifically to direct the funds to expand the Tribal Access Program.” - Tlingit and Haida President Richard J. Peterson
“I support the idea of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe having improved access to federal criminal background information, and thank Senator Daines for promoting this bill.” - Northern Cheyenne Tribe Acting President Conrad Fisher
“Tribes have long faced challenges accessing federal criminal information databases. The cost of using these databases is prohibitive, and that leads to serious public safety concerns. I applaud Senator Daines’ efforts, through this legislation, to help make the Tribal Access Program readily available to us.” - Crow Tribe Chairman AJ Not Afraid.
“We are learning because of events in Washington State and Texas how critical it is that there is a seamless sharing of data between all law enforcement agencies, including tribal law enforcement agencies. Because of the pilot TAPS project, the Fort Peck Tribes are the only Tribe in Montana that has the benefit of and access to the National Crime Information Database. Senator Daines’ legislation will broaden the Tribal Access Program for more tribes in Montana and the Nation. We support this and appreciate Senator Daines’ leadership in improving public safety for tribe in Montana and the Nation.” - Fort Peck Tribes Chairman Floyd Azure
National Day of Awareness Resolution:
“I stand with Senator Daines, and support his efforts to recognize that our Native women are murdered and go missing at rates that we can no longer tolerate. On some reservations, the murder rate for Native women is estimated to be ten times the national average. On the Crow Reservation we are working to develop a database to track missing and murdered women and girls. It is my hope that with this resolution, May 5th will become not just a day to mourn the loss of our sisters and daughters, but to find justice for the victims and healing for our communities.” - Crow Tribe First Lady Deneen Not Afraid,
“There are many barriers to the safety of Native women and girls. This resolution is important to all missing and murdered Native women and girls because one of the barriers is the silence surrounding these disappearances and murders. The National Day of Awareness will increase public awareness of this crisis and I hope all members of Congress will support it.” - Malinda Limberhand, mother of Hanna Harris
“This Resolution is about making sure that Native women who disappear or are murdered are no longer invisible. We must continue to raise awareness to bring safety and justice to Native women and girls.” - National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jacqueline Pata