Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty
Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, a member of the 24th Navajo Nation Council, pledged support to bipartisan congressional bill H.R. 2438, entitled the Not Invisible Act of 2019. The legislation proposes to establish an advisory committee on violent crime to combat plaguing issues such as missing and murdered indigenous people and human trafficking, and to appoint a coordinator that would head prevention initiatives, collaborative efforts, and work directly with Native communities.
According to the legislation, it would allow law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, Native American survivors, and their families to make recommendations to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Justice to create best practices for law enforcement for jurisdictional organization and improve coordination across federal agencies through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
H.R. 2438 is the first bill to be introduced by four enrolled members of federally recognized tribes – Representative Deb Haaland (D – NM) from the Pueblo of Laguna, along with co-sponsors Representatives Tom Cole (R – OK) from the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, Sharice Davids (D – KS) from the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, and Markwayne Mullin (R – OK) from the Cherokee Nation.
Delegate Crotty expressed gratitude to the legislation sponsors and stated that the bill is a part of the foundation that will address critical needs in Indian Country such as data collection, collaboration with federal and outside entities, and provides survivors a voice to be a part of the change to prevent violent crimes within their communities.
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the sponsors of this bill, and I would urge tribal leadership throughout Indian Country to pledge support to this important piece of legislation. It is known that the collection of data on violent crimes and trafficking is limited, especially in remote areas such as the Navajo Nation and Alaska Native communities. The passage of the Not Invisible Act of 2019 is paramount, and I would encourage indigenous communities to utilize this tool as they address issues such as sexual violence and missing and murdered indigenous people in their communities. Through a unified voice, we will bring light to these important areas and bring our missing relatives home,” said Delegate Crotty.
She added that the collection of data on violent crimes is key to understanding the issues that plague Native American communities, and it would allow access to critical resources such as grant funding, technical assistance, and increased collaboration with state and federal law enforcement.
Representative Haaland stated that Native American congressional members recognized a need for an advisory committee to aid Native communities throughout the United States.
“Every woman deserves to feel safe, but women in Native communities are going missing without a trace. Today, the congressional members of federally recognized tribes are stepping up for our communities by working to set up an advisory board that is specifically focused on finding solutions to address this silent crisis,” said Representative Haaland, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.
In addition, Delegate Crotty stated that the Navajo Nation is currently developing a data institute to begin tracking Missing and Murdered Diné Relatives, or MMDR. The institute would assist social services, health services, and law enforcement to understand problem areas, create effective strategies to combat violent crimes, and allow the Nation to have access to additional grant opportunities.
“As we move forward with prevention efforts, improving direct services to our Diné survivors, and working with Navajo law enforcement, the proposed Missing and Murdered Diné Relatives data institute would be a vital tool in creating lasting solutions for our people. The ownership we have over our data is powerful because we will be working directly with Navajo communities, and more importantly, hearing their stories and their voices that will contribute to meaningful changes in their communities,” said Delegate Crotty.
Delegate Crotty added that she would be introducing legislation to support the Not Invisible Act of 2019, and urged Navajo leadership to continue advocating for initiatives to eradicate violence and human trafficking on the Navajo Nation.
A similar bill, S. 982, was introduced in April to the Senate also entitled the Not Invisible Act of 2019, and is sponsored by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D – NV), and co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R – AK) and Jon Tester (D – MT).
To download a copy of H.R. 2438, click here.