May 5, 2017, marked the first time that the United States observed a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.Senate Resolution 60, 115th Congress (2017); Mary Annette Pember, “Missing and Murdered: No One Knows How Many Native Women Have Disappeared,” Indian Country Today, April 11, 2016; and National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, “Recent News,” National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. High rates of violence against Native women and girls is the disturbing legacy of the systematic destruction, forced migration, and cultural annihilation of indigenous people. The disappearance of Native women and girls is likely caused by a variety of factors, including sexual and domestic violence and trafficking.
The recent restoration of tribal authority to prosecute non-Native perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault on tribal lands could make a difference in diminishing this widespread problem, but testimony from tribal leaders makes it clear that services and justice are still largely inaccessible to indigenous people in the United States.U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, 2016 Tribal Consultation Report (Palm Springs, CA: U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, 2016); and National Congress of American Indians, “Tribal Implementation of VAWA: Resource Center for Implementing Tribal Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA),”