Deputy AG directs U.S. attorneys to prioritize violence against Native Americans, Alaskans

Office cites "the high rates of indingenous persons reported missing."
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A Navajo store in Monument Valley, Utah, May 2020
A Navajo store in Monument Valley, Utah, May 2020
(MARK RALSTON/Getty)

The second-ranking official in the Department of Justice has directed federal prosecutors with jurisdiction to prioritize investigations into "violent crime in Indian country," the department announced on Thursday.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said during the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls that it is "a priority of the Department of Justice to address the disproportionately high rates of violence experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives, and relatedly, the high rates of indigenous persons reported missing," according to a press release from the DOJ.

The directive, issued via a memorandum from Monaco's office, is meant to "reaffir[m] the department's unwavering commitment to promoting public safety in Indian Country and to respecting Tribal sovereignty," the deputy attorney general said.

The press release said that this measure, which applies to "each U.S. Attorney with Indian country jurisdiction," is the first such directive since 2010. 

The memorandum "recognizes that the department's law enforcement components are essential to investigating crimes in Indian country, and it directs those agencies to adopt their own guidelines, policies and protocols to address the unique public safety challenges in Indian country," the DOJ said.