KTVA: Federal task force on missing, murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives to open Anchorage office

Alaska is scheduled to have a federal cold case task force office working on missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native cases.

The office in Anchorage will open on Aug. 27 and it will be one of seven across the country.

The offices were established by the Trump administration through an executive order signed in November of 2019.  The order created the Operation Lady Justice Task Force to address the number of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Natives in tribal communities.

The multi-agency effort is co-chaired by Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt and U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr.  The first cold case task force office opened in Bloomington, Minnesota on Monday by Secretary Bernhardt, Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Katuk Sweeney.

“Today’s opening of the first Missing and Murdered Native Americans Cold Case office demonstrates the commitment of the Operation Lady Justice Task Force to achieving the mandate set out for it under President Trump’s Executive Order,” Sweeney said in a press release about the opening. “Cold cases in Indian Country will be addressed with determination and the understanding that the victims in these cases will be accorded some measure of dignity and compassion – not only for them, but for their survivors, as well.”

The cold case task forces will be staffed with law enforcement personnel and newly appointed special agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services, along with personnel from other Operation Lady Justice Task Force partners including tribal law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Offices of the United States Attorneys.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski applauded the office opening.

“Addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women is going to take all of us to make lasting change. I applaud the administration for the importance placed on this issue—helping us move beyond awareness to action by working to advance initiatives to turn the tide on this crisis. It has truly become an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ effort at all levels of government,” Murkowski said. “These Cold Case Task Force offices are possible because of the funding we worked to include in the 2020 omnibus appropriations bill. Our hope is that they lead to providing justice for the victims and healing for their families. Every step forward is a step in the right direction.”

The other offices will be in Rapid City, SD; Billings, MT; Nashville, TN; Albuquerque, NM and Phoenix, AZ.

By:  Jennifer Summers
Source: KTVA

Related Issues: Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska