WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday ordered several Cabinet departments to work together to combat human trafficking and crime on Native American lands, where violent crime rates are more than double the national average.
Speaking at a White House summit on tribal nations, Biden signed an executive order tasking the Justice, Homeland Security and Interior departments with pursuing strategies to reduce crime. Biden also asked the departments to work to strengthen participation in Amber Alert programs and national training programs for federal agents, and appoint a liaison who can speak with family members and to advocates.
The administration also announced plans to pursue a 20-year ban on oil and gas drilling in Chaco Canyon, an ancient Native American heritage site in northwestern New Mexico.
“We have to continue to stand up for the dignity and sovereignty of tribal nations,” Biden said at the first tribal nations summit since 2016. The two-day summit was being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected Indigenous peoples at disproportionate rates.
American Indians and Alaska Natives are more than twice as likely to be victims of a violent crime and Native American women are at least two times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted compared to other races, according to the Association on American Indian Affairs.