U.S. Attorney Alison Ramsdell Presents at White House Tribal Nations Summit in Washington, D.C.
Speaking at the Tribal Nations Summit, U.S. Attorney Ramsdell noted it has long been a priority of the Department of Justice to address the disproportionately high rates of violence experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives, and relatedly, the high rates of Indigenous persons reported missing. The Department does so through the work of U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAOs), which assign Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) to prosecute federal crimes occurring in Indian country. Working with federal, tribal, state, and local law enforcement, AUSAs prosecute a range of violent crime, including murder, assault, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, as well as drug trafficking. USAOs further serve Indian country by convening monthly Multidisciplinary Team meetings to address cases involving child abuse with various community stakeholders, including law enforcement, social services providers, and medical personnel. At the invitation of tribal leadership, local law enforcement, and school administrators, USAOs also conduct extensive outreach with tribal partners, from addressing tribal councils and assisting in training efforts to making presentations at school assemblies.
As it relates to the topic at the center of the NIAC’s Report—Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP)—U.S. Attorney Ramsdell discussed the newly created MMIP Regional Outreach Program, which permanently places Assistant U.S. Attorneys and coordinators in five designated regions across the nation. USAOs will support the MMIP Regional Outreach Program and leverage the MMIP AUSAs and Coordinators to assist in resolving cases where federal jurisdiction exists and bridging gaps in communication that sometimes develop between federal, tribal, state, and local partners when an Indigenous person is reported missing.
U.S. Attorney Ramsdell also discussed the fact that all USAOs in federal judicial districts with Tribal lands, including Public Law 280 states, implemented Savanna’s Act guidelines in the Spring of 2022. These are law enforcement guidelines regarding interjurisdictional cooperation among law enforcement in cases related to missing persons. They set forth best practices in conducting missing persons searches; establish standards for the collection, reporting, and analysis of MMIP data and human remains; and ensure access to culturally appropriate victim services. Finally, U.S. Attorney Ramsdell discussed the Department’s work with individual tribes to develop Tribal Community Response Plans, which are cross-jurisdictional protocols that govern law enforcement responses to reports of missing persons within a Tribal community. Importantly, the process, which involves local and federal partners, is led by Tribes. This leadership role allows Tribes to incorporate culturally appropriate protocols in every aspect of their plans. USAOs and the MMIP Regional Outreach Program will support and assist Tribal communities who choose to develop their own TCRPs.