Arizona Gov. Hobbs makes task force to reduce violence against Indigenous community

Mar 7, 2023, 4:59 PM | Updated: Mar 8, 2023, 7:41 am

(Twitter Photo/@GovernorHobbs)...

(Twitter Photo/@GovernorHobbs)

(Twitter Photo/@GovernorHobbs)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs announced a new panel Tuesday that will work to reduce and end violence against Indigenous people in the state.

The eight-member Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous People will collaborate with state, federal and tribal agencies to address a national and local crisis through an interdisciplinary response, Hobbs announced through an executive order.

The group will track and collect data regarding violence against Indigenous people — including data on missing and murdered — while reviewing policies that impact violence, building effective programs and finding sustainable funding sources.

“For too long, our state has ignored tribal leaders’ pleas for help addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people,” Hobbs said in a press release. “Today, we are taking the first of many steps to stop the abuse, exploitation and violence against Indigenous peoples.

“I want to thank the Indigenous People’s Caucus at the state legislature, along with tribal leaders statewide, who have been instrumental in raising awareness of this epidemic and for laying the round work for this task force.”

The members will also look at prosecutorial trends relating to crimes of gender violence and gather information in an attempt to understand the experience of those surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous people, as a way to ensure recommendations made are culturally accurate.

Its formation comes as the number of murders of Indigenous people in Arizona have steadily increased over the past 40 years, with woman and children most at risk of victimization.

It also follows a 2022 report from the Study Committee on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples that included counsel to establish a Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Task Force.

The panel will be comprised of a member from the state Senate and House of Representatives, the attorney general, the director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and two representatives and an attorney general from Tribal Nations located in Arizona. The attorney general and director of DPS can designate another person in their place.

There will also be a law enforcement professional from an Arizona county and five members of the public with a background in victim advocacy or health services to make up the group.

The task force will be required to submit their findings to Hobbs by Dec. 1 each year until 2026. It was her eighth executive order since taking office in January.

There are 22 federally-recognized tribal nations in the state, which has the third largest Native American population in the country.

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Arizona Gov. Hobbs makes task force to reduce violence against Indigenous community