"When the Department of Justice launched our public safety initiative in tribal communities last year, we encountered a variety of reactions.
Some people expressed skepticism at what they viewed as another round of empty pledges from a new administration. Others celebrated the effort but made it clear that words were not enough unless followed by action. Many were eager to participate in the process, and to discuss lessons learned through past efforts and the challenges that lay ahead.
But all agreed that this initiative was long overdue. We know that a lack of effort and resources have contributed to poverty and violent crime on reservations, and in pueblos and villages throughout the country. The United States has a trust responsibility to First Americans and, quite simply, needs to do better.
A guiding principle for our initiative is the recognition that, in addition to having resources to fight and prevent crime, partnerships are critical. We will be able to make lasting improvement in public safety only if the United States, tribal communities and other partners work together.
The most critical partners are tribal nations themselves, each of which is unique and requires unique solutions to address the problems facing their people. To begin the public safety initiative, DOJ held a series of meetings and consultations with groups large and small. Following discussions with tribal representatives from across the country, we identified four areas where DOJ can work with tribal communities to make significant and lasting change: Supporting tribal justice systems; meeting our federal law enforcement responsibility; addressing violence against Native women; and developing initiatives for American Indian and Alaska Native youth. As we examine strategies in each of these areas, we know that we have to work hand-in-hand with tribal communities to develop and implement innovative solutions."
Get the Story:
Tom Perrelli: Delivering on promises made, one step at a time
(Indian Country Today 4/30)