Published March 21, 2019
BISMARCK, N.D. — Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today convened a field oversight hearing titled “To Protect and Serve: Joint Law Enforcement Efforts in Building Safe Tribal Communities and Stopping Dangerous Drugs from Entering Indian Country.” The field oversight hearing was held in Bismarck, North Dakota at United Tribes Technical College.
“One of my top priorities as Chairman has been to address public safety in Indian communities and as a result, the Committee has been active in finding solutions. Last Congress, we held several roundtables, oversight hearings and reported numerous pieces of legislation out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that address this urgent matter,” Hoeven said. “I appreciate the opportunity to hear from our witnesses this morning, and I have the highest confidence that this oversight hearing will be productive and leave us with a better understanding of where the path to progress lies.”
Also during the hearing, Hoeven examined how dangerous drugs enter Indian country and what best practices are available to combat the illicit drug trade, including increased inter-agency collaboration of federal, tribal and state authorities.
In his opening remarks, Hoeven highlighted bills he introduced in the 116th Congress that will enhance safety in Indian Country:
· S. 210, the Tribal Law and Order Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2019, which would reauthorize and strengthen several key programs to improve tribal justice and public safety for Indian communities.
· S. 211, the SURVIVE Act, which would expand critical victims services by requiring a 5% allocation from the Crime Victims Fund be allocated directly to Indian Tribes.
Additionally, the Senator outlined Savanna’s Act, legislation named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind of the Spirit Lake Tribe. The legislation requires reporting on missing and murdered Native Americans and requires that the DOJ and DOI consult with Indian tribes while developing national law enforcement guidelines.
Joined by Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Congressman Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL), the Committee heard from three panels of federal, tribal, and state officials. Witnesses testifying at the hearing included: North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum; North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem; Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Mike Faith; Spirit Lake Nation Tribal Chairwoman Myra Pearson; Sisseton Wapheton Oyate Nation Tribal Councilwoman Lisa Jackson; Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation Tribal Councilwoman Judy Brugh; and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Tribal Chairman Jamie Azure.
For witness testimony click here.