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'We Are Murdered By Outsiders': International Agency Holds Hearing On Crisis In Indian Country

Regular Meeting of the Permanent Council, September 27, 2018
Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS
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Regular Meeting of the Permanent Council, September 27, 2018

On Friday, an intergovernmental organization hosted a hearing in Boulder, Colorado on the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the U.S. That group faces some of the highest violence and sexual assault rates in the nation.

“We are assaulted and murdered by outsiders, by oil workers, by our neighbors, by our partners, and even through the complicity of our federal government due to its laws and enforcement measures,” Lucy Simpson, a citizen of the Navajo Nation and executive director of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, told commissioners from the Organization of American States.

The OAS is a United Nations-like body representing countries in North and South America.

It helps mediate grievances on everything from immigration to drug policy and the political crisis in Venezuela.

Simpson and other speakers also said the U.S. government isn’t doing enough to address the crisis. No one, for example, knows the total number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the U.S. because federal agencies aren’t really tracking it.

But U.S. Ambassador Carlos Trujillo argued the federal government is doing a lot. Last year, he said the U.S. Department of Justice doubled the amount of grant funding devoted to public safety and victim services across Indian Country.

“The increase in resources together with aggressive investigation and prosecution of crimes shows how seriously the United States takes these issues,” Trujillo said.

Commissioners overseeing the hearing urged the U.S. to work harder on jurisdiction issues between the federal government and tribes.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Nate Hegyi is the Utah reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, based at KUER. He covers federal land management agencies, indigenous issues, and the environment. Before arriving in Salt Lake City, Nate worked at Yellowstone Public Radio, Montana Public Radio, and was an intern with NPR's Morning Edition. He received a master's in journalism from the University of Montana.
Nate Hegyi
Nate Hegyi is a reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau based at Yellowstone Public Radio. He earned an M.A. in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism in 2016 and interned at NPR’s Morning Edition in 2014. In a prior life, he toured around the country in a band, lived in Texas for a spell, and once tried unsuccessfully to fly fish. You can reach Nate at nate@ypradio.org.
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