Well, that did not take long. Last week I published a piece in the Syracuse newspaper giving the Trump Administration qualified credit for appointing a task force, dubbed “Operation Lady Justice,” directed at addressing the problem of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and for issuing a proclamation making May 5th “Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day.“
At a listening session yesterday, the Trump Administration unsurprisingly demonstrated that its real commitment to the issue is shallow and so limited as to be effectively meaningless. As Native Americans who attended the session yesterday pointed out, the President’s approval of pipe lines and other projects brings large numbers of non-native “man camps” into areas close to many Native American communities. Many observers have asserted that a relationship exists between such projects and reports of missing and murdered Native American women and girls. Indeed, Kristin Welch, a community organizer for Menikanaehkem, a Wisconsin group, asserted that cases of violence against Native American women are increased 70% by the presence of these man camps.
Task Force members repeatedly ignored these questions. When asked about the 1978 Oliphant decision, which held that non-Indians can not be held criminally liable for their actions on Indian land by tribal authorities, Task Force Member Marcia Good said that “Oliphant is currently beyond the scope of [Operation Lady Justice] at this time.”
Without restoring power to Native nations to allow them to prosecute the crimes non-Indians commit against Native American women, the Trump Administration has removed from the table what all experts assert is a vital part of any solution to this heart-wrenching problem. President Trump, in other words, supports policies that threaten to exacerbate the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women while permitting no discussion of a critical part of the solution. The Trump Administration is interested only in the appearance of action, except when it chooses to behave in a destructive manner.