An empty red dress is seen at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington as part of "The REDress Project," an installation by Métis artist Jaime Black that raises awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Rep. Markwayne Mullin: Bipartisan bill protects Native women and girls

Protecting Native Women and Girls

Sunday, May 5, was the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women.

We are experiencing an epidemic of violence in our tribal communities: 80 percent of Native men and women experience violence, 34 percent of Native women experience sexual violence in their lifetimes, and murder is the third-leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native women.

Native women and girls are also disproportionately likely to become victims of sex trafficking. And we don’t even have a full picture of these incidents because of underreporting and unprosecuted cases.

The silent crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women is wreaking havoc on our families and our communities.

While there are federal programs and resources available to combat violent crime in Indian Country, unfortunately there is not currently an overarching plan or strategy to do so. This has resulted in the failure to efficiently coordinate services and federal resources to effectively serve Native communities.

In response to this, my colleagues, Reps. Deb Haaland (D-NM), Tom Cole (R-OK), Sharice Davids (D-KS), and I introduced the Not Invisible Act. Our bipartisan bill (H.R.2438) would establish an advisory committee on violent crime made up of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, and survivors to make recommendations to the Department of Interior and Department of Justice and establish best practices for law enforcement on combatting the epidemic of missing persons, murder, and trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Additionally, this legislation will ensure that the unique challenges faced by tribal communities are considered when combatting crime, violence, and human trafficking.

This is an important step in the right direction because we cannot stand by and let this crisis continue. Our priority must be to protect women and children from becoming one of these alarming statistics.

All parties have to work together to raise awareness and find the most effective ways to fight back against this epidemic.

Markwayne Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was first elected to serve the people of Oklahoma’s Second Congressional District in November 2012. He is currently serving his fourth term in office. Mullin and his wife Christie have five children: Jim, Andrew, Larra, Ivy, and Lynette. The Mullin family currently resides in Westville, Oklahoma on the same family farm where Markwayne was raised.

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