On May 5, Acting Indian Health Service (IHS) Director Elizabeth Fowler released a statement on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Awareness Day. In the statement, Director Fowler identified IHS senior advisor, Elizabeth Carr as lead on the agency’s efforts to address MMIP. Before NCUIH advocacy, Missing and Murdered Indigenous People fell within law enforcement and jurisdictional issues. The response toward MMIP was to make sure Tribes had jurisdiction over non-Indian violent offenders. While incredibly important, this response missed the preventative part of this epidemic. Due solely to NCUIH’s work, we have successfully incorporated public health approaches to this problem.
Representative Grijalva also introduced a resolution designating May 5th as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The resolution, which was also introduced in the Senate, has bipartisan support and has been endorsed by NCUIH.
Read the statement below or on the IHS website here.
Today, I want to recognize Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. This is a day to remember and honor the lives of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. Our communities have been deeply affected by our missing and murdered relatives. Native people are resilient, and we must show our support to prevent the violence that has devastated so many of our communities. The Biden Administration has shown its support for tribal nations on this important issue, and under the leadership of Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, we now have an opportunity to bring the needed resources and attention to stop the violence that plagues our communities.
The contributing factors of the MMIP crisis require the attention of leaders at all levels of government in collaboration with Native American communities. The Indian Health Service will continue to support these efforts through our participation and support of the White House Council on Native American Affairs and the Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. Recognizing the ties between domestic and sexual violence, trafficking and MMIP, the IHS supports our communities through our nationally-funded Domestic Violence Prevention and Forensic Health Care programs and continues to work to improve the way we document and screen suspected human trafficking. Today, I am also announcing that the IHS senior advisor, Elizabeth Carr, will lead our agency’s efforts to address MMIP. We look forward to working with the Administration as we end the MMIP crisis using a public health and safety approach.