Acting Director Allison Randall of the Office on Violence Against Women Delivers Remarks in 2023 Strengthening Sovereign Responses to Sex Trafficking in Indian Territory and Alaska | takeover bid

Hello! I am delighted to be with all of you in New Orleans, the traditional and sacred homeland of the Chitimacha, Choctaw, Houma, and Biloxi peoples.

I think it is crucial that we recognize the original, legitimate and continuing stewards of this land. However, that recognition means little if it is not accompanied by action following the leadership of tribal defenders and survivors.

That is why it is so important that OVW is here: to be guided by the voices of all who are here in this room today.

Our work is driven by the principle that we cannot end violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women without centering tribal sovereignty. And all of OVW’s work, not just our Division of Tribal Affairs, but all of our grants and policies, are only effective when informed by tribal leaders and designees.

In that regard, under the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, the Department of Justice, in coordination with the Department of the Interior and the Department of Health and Human Services, conducts an annual government-to-government consultation with tribal leaders. on how to respond. to violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women. OVW is honored to plan and organize the consultation, which we held in Alaska for the first time last year.

Every year at the consultation, we hear powerful and sometimes heartbreaking testimonials from tribal leaders and designated persons who are living through the unbearable devastation of losing a loved one, of not knowing if someone missing will ever return.

We cannot underestimate the role that sex trafficking plays in these cases. Years ago, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition (MIWSAC) was the first to inform me about the alarming rates of sex trafficking in Indian Territory: MIWSAC told me that girls were being recruited or even kidnapped while waiting for the bus. . MIWSAC continues to lead the way in documenting the problem and identifying strategies to stop it.

This year, we’ve been conducting site visits in Alaska, and we’re hearing about young Alaska Natives being approached by traffickers who leave for Anchorage within days of arrival. We heard about Alaska Native youth in foster care in Ketchikan who had been trafficked, even though they would not have defined themselves as victims and needed culturally specific responses that would meet them where they were. And we hear about the role of fishing fleets and extractive industries in exacerbating sex trafficking.

Tribes need tools to address this.

Last year, VAWA was reauthorized, restoring the inherent sovereign jurisdiction of Tribes to Tribes to prosecute non-Indigenous perpetrators of sex trafficking, among other crimes, including sexual violence and child abuse in the context of domestic violence, committed in tribal lands.

The law also extends this jurisdiction to Alaska Native villages, which were left out of the previous legal framework. These victories for tribal sovereignty are thanks to the determined advocacy of so many represented at this conference.

If you’ve ever doubted whether your voice counts in Washington, just look at VAWA. People said it couldn’t be done, but you made it possible.

And he worked for these historic victories because he is in community with those who are directly affected. You yourselves are shocked. You are supporting survivors every day, and COVID-19 introduced a whole new set of changing circumstances for you to navigate.

So I want to thank you not only for your work on VAWA 2022, but for being here today, and my special thanks to Nicole Matthews and everyone at MIWSAC, Men as Peacemakers, Tribal Law and Policy Institute, and Mending the Sacred Hoop for coming together for this conference. incredibly important.

Addressing the disproportionately high rates of violence experienced by indigenous peoples, including sexual violence and sex trafficking and, relatedly, the high rates of indigenous people who are missing, is a priority not only for OVW but for the entire Department of Justice.

The missing and murdered indigenous persons, or MMIP, crisis requires victim-centered, trauma-informed responses from the entire Department of Justice.

Last year, the Department launched an MMIP page with helpful resources for survivors and their loved ones, tribal communities, law enforcement agencies and officers, and service providers. That can be found at

But we know we have much more to do, and we are guided in that work by the words of Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco, in her directive to create a Department of Justice Steering Committee to address the MMIP crisis: “The Department recognizes that the challenges facing Tribes are best met with tribal solutions and therefore the Steering Committee must make tribal engagement the cornerstone of its work.” I want to reiterate that “challenges facing tribes are best solved by tribal solutions.”

I serve on the No Invisible Law Commission and am proud to see those tribal solutions at the heart of the commission’s work.

But of course those tribal solutions need funding to be successful and we want to support that. We want to invest in you and help you succeed once you get those federal funds. We are posting new grant applications, some are already online now, and I must encourage you to apply. Most of our grants prioritize tribal organizations or tribal governments in some way, so check out all of our available applications and not just tribal-specific ones. Information about our grants, purpose areas, and how to apply can be found on our website, and we’ve brought informational material for you to take with you.

I’ve been an applicant and a recipient myself, so I know it’s not as easy as saying “apply!” We are working hard to streamline applications, and our Division of Tribal Affairs has done a great job reviewing and streamlining applications, particularly for our grants to support tribes in implementing the recently expanded special tribal criminal jurisdiction.

Another opportunity to build your own capacity and help OVW fund more tribal organizations is to be a peer reviewer of grant applications. The peer review process involves active professionals in the field evaluating applications against the application criteria and selecting the best of the bunch. When you serve as a peer reviewer, you get a behind-the-scenes look at how to be a successful candidate.

You also bring your unique expertise. You help ensure that applications from tribes and tribal organizations are reviewed by people who understand those communities, by people from those same communities, by people who know what culturally specific services look like. You can visit the OVW website for more information and complete the recruitment form to send by email.

I want to close by thanking the survivors in the audience. To all who have fought and are here today to turn that pain into action: we see you. We are with you. We will fight side by side with you. Let’s change the world together.