Reservations gain access to state resources

Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 4:24 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The U.S. Department of the Interior says that four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women have been victims of violent assault.

The state and reservations have made an agreement that could help prevent more cases like Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind’s and Olivia Lone Bear’s from happening in the future.

Attorney General Drew Wrigley says in 2019, he was shocked to learn that a particular reservation had only one officer assigned to it. 

“That’s unacceptable. If we had 30 percent staffing in any of our towns and cities around the state of North Dakota, there’d be an outcry. There should be,” he said.

The state made an agreement with local reservations on Monday. The agreement gives reservations access to the state’s resources.

“We are a center or a hub of much economic development, so there’s a lot of outsiders who come in, and that influence brings a lot of negativity, such as crime and drugs and things of that nature,” Mark Fox, Chairman of MHA Nation, said.

Reservations will have access to state resources, helping them combat other types of crime as well. Attorney General Wrigley’s office reported that Native Americans made up about 18 percent of total arrests in 2022 in North Dakota.

“If we don’t combine our resources — state, federal, and tribal — we’ll lose this battle, and we have been losing this battle,” Chairman Fox said.

The state has already started to share its resources with reservations. Attorney General Wrigley says he successfully petitioned the legislature for additional BCI agents. The first agent will be placed in Stanley this November.

In 2020, the CDC reported American Indian and Alaska Native women “experienced the second highest rate of homicide.”