The Quilt Walk for Justice was displayed in Washington, D.C., on December 7, 2015, to draw attention to high rates of crime against Native women. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on human trafficking

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has scheduled a hearing to address trafficking of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

In April, the Government Accountability Office said federal agencies are failing to collect data on Native trafficking victims. As a result, it's not possible to determine the extent of the problem.

"In certain circumstances, state or tribal law enforcement may have jurisdiction to investigate crimes in Indian country; therefore, these figures likely do not represent the total number of human trafficking-related cases in Indian country," the GAO wrote in the report, which was released on April 6.

"Also, considering that human trafficking is known to be an underreported crime, it is unlikely that these figures, or any other investigative or prosecutorial data, represent the full extent to which human trafficking is occurring in Indian country," the report continued.

Of the four agencies with investigative and prosecutorial powers in Indian Country, only the Bureau of Indian Affairs collects data on the tribal affiliation of a trafficking victim, the GAO said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and the network of U.S. Attorneys across the nation either fail to collect the same information or only do so in limited circumstances, according to the report.

The hearing will take place next Wednesday, July 26. A witness list hasn't been posted online.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Oversight Hearing on “The GAO Reports on Human Trafficking of American Indian and Alaska Natives in the United States.” (July 26, 2017)

Government Accountability Office Report:
Action Needed to Identify the Number of Native American Victims Receiving Federally-funded Services (April 6, 2017)

Related Stories
More data needed to address human trafficking in Indian Country (April 19, 2017)
Attorney General vows help for public safety in Indian Country (April 18, 2017)
Zinke cites 'heart-breaking' crime rates against Native women (April 18, 2017)

Join the Conversation