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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Sen. Tester criticizes FBI for failing to protect Indian Country

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Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) has forwarded correspondence to the FBI critical of the agency’s efforts to keep Indian Country safe and aid local jurisdictions regarding crimes outside of a reservation.

“The violence that Native people experience does not stop at Indian reservation borders and neither do the FBI’s responsibilities,” Tester wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray in response to the death of Kaysera Stops at Pretty Places in Hardin, Mont., just off the Crow Reservation. “With such a high number of cases occurring short distances from Indian reservations, the FBI must be more proactive and provide all available resources to counties investigating crimes against Native Americans.”

He noted the death of Stops represents at least the 27th missing or killed Indigenous woman case in Big Horn County.

Tester is calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Leadership to bring up and pass the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, officials said, as a means of ensuring Tribes have the authority to bring perpetrators to justice and provide survivors with the resources they need.

“The federal government has a trust and treaty responsibility to keep Native communities safe,” Tester concluded in the correspondence. “To meet this responsibility, the FBI must work with Tribes, state and local law enforcement, and surrounding communities to combat the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis.”

He also asked the FBI what actions have been taken to prioritize preventing, investigating, and prosecuting crimes against Native Americans and whether the agency has increased the number of FBI agents in Indian Country.