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Not Invisible Act commission concludes recommendations

Members of the Not Invisible Act commission meet in Washington, D.C., in February. DOI Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) is in the middle, front. (DOI)

When the federal Not Invisible Act was signed into law in October 2020, it came with the establishment of a commission. Now after years of working together, the group’s recommendations have been sent to the federal government. The Department of Interior (DOI) made the announcement in a news release Nov. 1.

The law’s purpose, and the mandate of the commission, is to develop recommendations the federal government can take to help combat violent crime against Indigenous People, and to address the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous People (MMIP), which includes human trafficking. The law was also written to enable more resources for MMIP survivors and victim’s families.

The commission is composed of members of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers and MMIP survivors and family members. Its recommendations were sent Nov. 1 to the DOI, Department of Justice (DOJ) and Congress. Those entities’ responses to the recommendations are due within 90 days, according to the DOI.

The push for the law and its implementation, including the commission’s creation, was led by DOI Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) during her time in Congress. She served in Congress from 2019 to 2021 and was confirmed as DOI secretary in March 2021.

“I am so grateful to the members of the Not Invisible Act commission for the time and effort they have given to this work and this report. Indian Country will be safer and lives will be saved because of this commission’s work,” Haaland said in the release. “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community. Crimes against Indigenous People have long been underfunded and ignored, rooted in the deep history of intergenerational trauma that has affected our communities since colonization. I look forward to reviewing the recommendations, which will help us continue to galvanize attention and resources toward these tragic epidemics.”

The DOI said that since the law was enacted, the DOJ has made strides in implementing systems to help prevent new instances of MMIP, locating individuals who are reported missing, and investigating and prosecuting those responsible for crimes. This past summer, the DOJ launched an MMIP regional outreach program, which places attorneys and coordinators at U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country, to help prevent and respond to MMIP cases.