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Feds Pledge $246M to Address ‘Public Safety Crisis’ in Tribal Communities


Native American pottery designed by Donna Featherstone. Photo by Zyg Zee via Flickr

The Justice Department will award more than $246 million in grants to American Indian and Alaska Native communities to address the “public safety crisis” on tribal lands, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday.

The funds, administered through the Office of Justice Programs, the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing, will help indigenous communities address the rise in domestic violence and sexual violence, the Justice department said.

More than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native adults have suffered some form of violence, the equivalent of nearly three million people.

“[This is] an important opportunity to confront this public safety crisis with the urgency it demands,” Garland said in a prepared statement.

The awards coincided with the 17th annual government-to-government violence against women Tribal Consultation, held this month for the first time in Anchorage, Alaska.

Some $28 million of the total grants will be awarded to 30 tribal governments which are developing programs to respond to dating violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking. An additional $3.67 million is allocated to the Tribal Sexual Assault Services Program to help survivors of violence.

“These funds help tribal governments, coalitions, advocates and service providers meet survivors; needs,” said OVW Acting Director Allison Randall.

“That is vital, due to the epidemic levels of violence that Indigenous communities face.

Randall said the government would not tell tribal leaders how to spend the money, implicitly accepting Indigenous forms of healing, counseling and governance that in the past have been resisted by  federal authorities.

“Tribes know best what interventions will bring justice for survivors,” Randall said. “We are honored to support Tribal communities as they implement strategies that align with community values and practices.

“Tribal grantees have told us that this funding changed the care they can provide and made a profound difference in survivors’ lives.”

Justice authorities noted that special funds already set aside for crime victims can now be used in the campaign to locate missing or murdered indigenous persons, which has been a rising concern across Indian Country.

Nearly $3 million was allocated through Office for Victims of Crime to Project Beacon, which provides enhanced services for urban American Indian and Alaska Natve victims of human trafficking.

The full announcement can be downloaded here.

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