Federal Task Force to tackle tribal issues

Published: Nov. 27, 2019 at 6:18 PM CST
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President Trump's executive order establishing a Federal task force for Native American murders is getting plenty of praise here in North Dakota. Tribal leaders say they are already seeing the positives for future cases.

Scott Davis, the North Dakota Indian Affairs commissioner, says this task force is going to bring some much-needed attention to the national issues Native Americans are facing.

The biggest hurdle? Clarifying jurisdiction.

Among the numerous objectives, the task force will develop and publish best-practices guidance for use by Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement for missing and murdered cases.

"Agencies can't do it alone. I don't care if you're Highway Patrol, or BIA, or County; you need help. Look at the example of Silver Alerts with elderly that go missing sometimes. I mean, you need everybody to help out," Davis said.

The effects of the Executive Order could impact the handling of cases similar to the death of Olivia Lone Bear, an on-going investigation since July. Davis said the resources this task force will provide, could help with future cases. Especially when reporting crimes.

"But I think there's reluctance for some people to come forward and provide some information because everybody knows each other. But people gotta come forward, because this issue is big. At times, I fear it's growing," Davis said.

Following the task force's creation, tribal leaders have called for the passing of two federal bills that would expand health services for urban Native Americans. The bill left committee and is on its way to the Senate Floor.

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