WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.5087, a bill to amend the Not Invisible Act of 2019 to extend the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice Joint Commission on Reducing Violent Crime Against American Indians and Alaska Natives. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) co-led the original Not Invisible Act enacted in 2020 and this extension that now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“The Not Invisible Act Commission has important work to do to help the Departments combat the longstanding crisis of missing and murdered, and trafficked Indigenous people—which is why I’ve worked so diligently to help provide them with the support they need. I applaud the passage of this bill today which will extend the commission so that it can do its critical work,” said Senator Murkowski. “I thank Senator Schatz, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, for his assistance in moving the bill through the Committee last month and Senator Cortez Masto for her continued partnership.”
“There is still much work to do to combat the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and extending the Not Invisible Act Commission will ensure that it can keep playing its vital role in addressing this crisis,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I passed this legislation to bring justice to victims and survivors, and that’s what I’m going to keep fighting for in the Senate.”
“The Not Invisible Act Commission had a very short window of time to get its work done this last year. The Alaska contingent on the Commission – Vivian Korthius, representing Tribal Leadership, Tami Jerue, representing Tribal nonprofits, and myself as the Tribal Judge – shared the unique Alaska perspectives and challenges facing our native communities as well as the opportunities and innovations we have cultivated to address the public safety crisis facing women and children. With the much-needed extension for the Commission, we look forward to continuing to find solutions, real and lasting solutions, that will address the missing and murdered Indigenous persons crisis that hits our women at 10 times the national average, and the trafficking crisis that targets our women, girls and boys at disproportionate numbers. I thank Senator Murkowski for her persistent leadership that continues to recognize the necessity to reach laws and policies that value and protect our Indigenous peoples,” said Michelle Demmert, Assistant Professor of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Commissioner on the Not Invisible Act Commission.
“The Not Invisible Act Commission has been essential to addressing the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous people. As an appointed commissioner, I am excited that with this extension, the Commission will be able to continue work to improve intergovernmental coordination and establish best practices for Tribal, state, and federal law enforcement. Resources for survivors and victim’s families are essential in our efforts to end the MMIP crisis. I want to express my sincere appreciation to the other commission members for their continued work and to Senator Murkowski for her unwavering support and steadfast advocacy in the Senate, with her colleagues, and with many organizations that continue to bring awareness and take action to pass important legislation, such as S.5087. This week’s extension allows the Commission to continue to recommend changes and solutions that will make a true difference in protecting Indigenous people and bring justice and healing to our communities. While we have much more work to do, I am committed to continue working with our congressional delegation and our communities to listen, learn, advocate, and implement changes that will bring true solutions to the MMIP crisis,” said Tami Truett Jerue, Executive Director of the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center and Commissioner on the Not Invisible Act Commission.
S. 5087 extends the termination deadline of the Joint Commission on Reducing Violent Crime Against Indians within the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) by an additional 18 months. The Commission was created by the Not Invisible Act of 2019 in order to improve federal and tribal coordination efforts on reducing violent crimes committed against Indians by developing recommendations for the DOI and DOJ to utilize. Additionally, more support will be provided to the Joint Commission in the area of accepting and using gifts or donations from Indian Tribes or tribal entities, academic institutions, or non-profit organizations to better carry out their work.
For more information on the bill, click here.