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VAWA Reauthorization, Funding and MMU Establishment

By Jessica Dropkin

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden

On May 4th, the Biden Administration released a statement regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and Peoples Day, along with the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The VAWA’s purpose is to strengthen the protections as well as resources for women against violence. This act can be very helpful for Indigenous women that are facing violence, sexual and otherwise, on Tribal lands. The reauthorization of the VAWA ensures that non-Native offenders can still be held accountable for their crimes on Tribal Lands.

The bill also granted up to $35 million for Indigenous Tribes to provide temporary housing, assistance, and supportive services to domestic and dating violence victims. This also included supplemental funding for the StrongHearts Native Helpline and additional funding for services for sexual assault survivors. The Department of the Interior includes the Secretary of the Cabinet, Deb Haaland, who is the first Indigenous woman to be in a US President's Cabinet. The Department of the Interior recently established the Missing and Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice services to provide leadership and direction for work involving the MMIW epidemic.

The MMU will now bring the weight of the Federal Government when investigating these cases and to law enforcement resources throughout Tribal lands. The reauthorization of the VAWA act that then-Senator Joe Biden, now President Biden, sponsored in the 1990s, is a huge step forward for the MMIW movement, and a much-needed jump towards proper justice for these missing Indigenous people and their families.

Watch ‘Understanding How the Laws Encourage Violence’ by Nonviolence New York

Join our MMIW Campaign


President Biden’s Proclamation on MMIW Awareness Day, May 2021

The House Has Renewed the VAWA. It Now Faces Major Hurdles in the Senate, March 2021

Deb Haaland Confirmed As First Native American Interior Secretary

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