MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — President Trump signed an executive order establishing a task force to address the rash of violence against missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska natives, an issue the administration has been focusing on in recent months. The executive order comes after Attorney General William Barr’s rollout of a nationwide plan on Friday.
Mr. Trump was joined by Barr and several administration officials when signing the executive order, as well as a number of Native American tribal leaders.
Some of the native leaders at the signing represent native communities in Minnesota, like Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin and Fond du Lac Band Of Lake Superior Chippewa Chairman Kevin DuPuis.
Mr. Trump told reporters present that executive action on the issue “should’ve been done a long time ago.”
Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, said in a statement after the executive order was signed that it was an “important first step.”
“While there is so much that needs to be done to stop the violence perpetrated on Native women and girls, I appreciate the Administration for taking an important first step in establishing this Task Force,” Holsey said.
The order created an interagency task force which will be led by the Department of Justice and Department of the Interior.
Barr announced the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative during a visit with tribal leaders and law enforcement officials on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. The initiative will invest $1.5 million in hiring specialized coordinators in the offices of 11 U.S. attorneys who will be responsible for coming up with protocols for a more coordinated response to violence against indigenous people.
The plan also allows tribal or local law enforcement to seek help from the FBI, and the Justice Department is committing to conducting an in-depth review of federal databases to determine best practices for collecting data on missing indigenous persons.