Tlingit & Haida’s Chief Justice Michelle Demmert testified before the United States Senate Indian Affairs Committee on June 19, 2019 in a legislative hearing regarding multiple bills which address violence against women in Indian Country and Indigenous communities. The hearing was organized to hear testimony regarding five bills ‒ Savanna's Act (S. 227), Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act (S. 288), Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (S. 290), Not Invisible Act of 2019 (S. 982) and Bridging Agency Data Gaps and Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act (S. 1853).
“As for the MMIW [Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women] crisis, substantial change is needed," testified Chief Justice Demmert. "While increasing the response to MMIW cases is important, prioritizing attention to providing the advocacy and support to women and girls to prevent abductions and murders is critical. Support is needed at the front lines where women and girls are experiencing a spectrum of violence from birth to death. Support from the federal government for these much needed services, in addition to the criminal justice reform, will help save Native women’s lives.”
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was also present at the hearing and is a sponsor of Savanna’s Act. Senator Murkowski acknowledged Chief Justice Demmert in her opening remarks.
“What we’re all trying to do is to improve public safety and improve the justice system for our First Peoples, whether they be in Alaska or whether they be in reservations around the country or whether they be in our urban centers," shared Senator Murkowski. "I want to particularly welcome Michelle Demmert who is the Chief Justice for Tlingit & Haida. She also serves as the NCAI VAWA Task Force Chair. I appreciate a great deal, Michelle, the work you do. Your perspective on the importance of tribal provisions in VAWA, the need to strengthen them, these are so important for our efforts so that we are informed here. The insights that you are able to provide into the unique challenges that face Alaska tribes is so important to this discussion here today.”
Gunalcheesh, Haw’aa to Chief Justice Demmert for representing our Tlingit & Haida people and for speaking in support of justice for Native women everywhere.
to view a video recording of the legislative hearing.