The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma welcomed an executive order calling for U.S. agencies and tribal nations to work together in combating the high rate of violence against Native Americans.

President Joe Biden recently signed the executive order during The White House Tribal Nations Summit, which was resumed for the first time since 2016, to prioritize the safety and well-being of all Native Americans.

The executive order also states the Biden Administration will assist tribal governments within Oklahoma, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma “to build capacity to handle cases within their criminal jurisdiction, including the capacity to provide victim services.”

“We are extremely pleased the White House hosted the first Tribal Nations since 2016,” Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton said in a press release. “These events allow the federal government to build relations with tribes and are an important recognition of our sovereignty.”

“President Biden’s team issued strong statements of support for the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision and $15 billion for infrastructure in Indian Country,” Batton said. “These are key issues for sustaining tribal communities.”

Biden also ordered his administration to assist tribes in implementing special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction pursuant to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

The Act enables tribes to prosecute certain non-Indian defendants for domestic violence and dating violence offenses in Indian Country, and also assist tribes in implementing any relevant tribal provisions in subsequent Violence Against Women Act reauthorization legislation.

The executive order also addresses the missing and murdered indigenous women crisis and said the administration will make the issue and its underlying causes a priority.

“Generations of Native Americans have experienced violence or mourned a missing or murdered family member or loved one, and the lasting impacts of such tragedies are felt throughout the country,” the order states. “Native Americans face unacceptably high levels of violence, and are victims of violent crime at a rate much higher than the national average. Native American women, in particular, are disproportionately the victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including intimate partner homicide. Research shows that approximately half of Native American women have experienced sexual violence and that approximately half have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner.”

“We also welcome President Biden’s executive order calling for the United States and tribal nations to work together in combating the high rate of violence against Native American people,” Batton said.

The president also ordered 17 federal departments and agencies to collectively focus on protecting treaty rights held by the 574 federally recognized tribes and states that consulting with tribal leaders over policy decisions is a hallmark of the Biden administration.

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