GAO Report - Missing or Murdered Indigenous Women: New Efforts Are Underway but Opportunities Exist to Improve the Federal Response

Long red dresses on metal hook scattered on ascending concrete stairway

An art installation at the National Museum of the American Indian (2019) intended to draw attention to violent crimes against Indigenous women. Photo credit: GAO

United States Government Accountability Office
Report to Congressional Requesters
October 2021

According to researchers, American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women in the U.S. experience higher rates of violence than most other women, and tribal and federal officials have stated that this incidence of violence constitutes a crisis. Various federal officials and tribal stakeholders have raised concerns about challenges with cross-jurisdictional cooperation and a lack of comprehensive national data on cases. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to review the federal response to the missing or murdered AI/AN women crisis. This report examines the extent to which (1) the number of missing or murdered AI/AN women in the U.S. is known and (2) the Department of Justice and Department of Interior have taken steps to address the crisis.

GAO reviewed available data on missing persons and violent deaths, relevant reports, and agency documentation, including agency policies and procedures. Using agency data—which were determined to be reliable for location selection— and qualitative factors, GAO selected seven locations to interview federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials; tribal officials; and nongovernmental victim service providers on the federal response to the crisis.