- By Native News Online Staff
WASHINGTON — Secretary Deb Haaland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco hosted the first in-person sessions of the Not Invisible Act Commission and announced a series of field hearings that will be held around the country beginning in April.
The two-day in-person meeting at the Interior Department offices follows a series of online sessions since the establishment of the Commission last year. The sessions are part of the work to implement the Not Invisible Act and combat the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP).
The Not Invisible Act, authored by then-Rep. Haaland and passed into law in October 2020, established the Commission as a cross-jurisdictional advisory committee composed of both federal and non-federal members including law enforcement, Tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, family members of missing and murdered individuals, and survivors.
Secretary Haaland and Deputy Attorney General Monaco announced the members of the Commission last year as part of a live event to recognize National MMIP Awareness Day on May 5.
“This work requires each of us to face our own trauma, to relive unimaginable pain, and visualize a future in which our loved ones are safe and our communities have closure,” Haaland said in a statement. “We're here for our children, grandchildren and relatives we have yet to meet.”
Haaland stressed the need for collaboration, while Monaco emphasized the Justice Department’s commitment to listening and being responsive to partners in the effort.
“The Justice Department is steadfast in our pledge to work with Tribal governments in preventing and responding to the violence that has disproportionately harmed Tribal communities,” Monaco said in a statement.
The Commission is developing recommendations through the work of six subcommittees focused on improving intergovernmental coordination and establishing best practices for state, Tribal and federal law enforcement to bolster resources for survivors and victim’s families, and combating the epidemic of missing persons, murder and trafficking of American Indian and Alaska Native peoples, as specified under the law.
As part of the Commission’s final report to Secretary Haaland, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Congress, the subcommittees selected specific locations to hold field hearings this year to hear directly from the public in some of the communities most affected by the MMIP crisis:
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Flagstaff, Arizona
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Northern California
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Billings, Montana
A national, virtual field hearing is also planned for summer 2023, though details are not yet available. Hearings will include panel discussions and a public comment period. Specific topics of the hearings, as well as logistical details and information, will be made available to the public as the date of each hearing approaches.
Trauma-informed mental health professionals will be available at each location.
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