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An American Tragedy: The Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons
Thursday, December 3, 2020|3:00 pm - 5:00 pm UTC
Data indicates that Indigenous women in the United States are murdered at a significantly higher rate than the national average; in fact, on some reservations at more than ten times the national average. American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2 ½ times as likely to experience violent crimes and at least two times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes compared to all other races. More than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women or 84.3 percent have experienced violence in their lifetime. Shockingly, in 2016, the National Crime Information Center reported that there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, but only 116 of those cases were logged in the U.S. Department of Justice’s federal missing person’s database. In many instances, there was simply no meaningful investigation of these reports due to the complexities of state, federal and tribal jurisdictions and a lack of effective law enforcement protocols. A distinguished expert panel including attorney Mary Smith, the immediate past Secretary of the American Bar Association and an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, attorney Mary Kathryn Nagle, a playwright, and a partner at Pipestem Law, a firm specializing in tribal sovereignty of Native nations and peoples, who also is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, and attorney Lauren van Schilfgaarde, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Legal Development Clinic Director at UCLA School of Law will explain the initiatives that have been taken to address this problem and the issues that remain outstanding. The role that the Massachusetts Bar Association played in one of these initiatives will be outlined by attorney Alice Richmond, the state delegate for Massachusetts to the ABA House of Delegates, and Assistant District Attorney Kevin Curtin who sits on the ABA Board of Governors. This program also will introduce judges to the circumstances of Indigenous people and tribes here in Massachusetts, including both the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) of Massachusetts and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, also known as the People of the First Light, which has inhabited present-day Massachusetts and Eastern Rhode Island for more than 12,000 years. Background reading material will be distributed to all participants.
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