Two New Mexico Native women spoke before a U.S. Congress subcommittee on Thursday about the problems that contribute to the high numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives. Angel Charley, of the Laguna Pueblo and executive director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, testified before the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties during a hearing on the Neglected Epidemic of Missing BIPOC Women and Girls. She spoke about the failures of the U.S. government to stop what she called “a crisis” of missing and murdered Indigenous individuals. According to the 2020 New Mexico Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force Report, New Mexico has the highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous cases in the U.S., although it has the fifth largest Indigenous population in the nation. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, said that according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the total number of missing Indigenous women is unknown due to a lack of data.
Angel Charley, acting co-executive director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native American Women, gave a siren call for Indigenous issues Sunday during a meeting of women’s groups. Charley was the keynote speaker for the New Mexico American Association of University Women Chapter (AAUW), the League of Women Voters and the National Organization for Women over the weekend in Santa Fe in advance of the organizations’ lobbying efforts Monday at the Roundhouse rotunda. Pamelya Herndon, chair of the Public Policy Committee for AAUW, said she chose Charley as speaker because she had never seen a collaboration between the Indigenous group and the AAUW and she thought now was a good time to start one. “We should be working together,” Herndon said. “This is how to move into the Year of the Woman.”
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared at Democratic candidate Deb Haaland’s campaign office Tuesday to support the candidate and speak about reauthorizing the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). “As we pass laws about domestic violence and violence against women, we must recognize the specific nature of the challenge in Indian Country,” Pelosi told the room of campaign volunteers. Haaland is the Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District, a position currently held by U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Haaland will face Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton in the November general election. Pelosi praised Haaland and her campaign, but added that they are sure to see negative attacks from Republicans.
The Albuquerque-based Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women has hosted its fifth annual Tribal Leaders Summit to brief tribal, state and federal officials who work with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Last week’s event included presentations by Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, former U.S. Assistant District Attorney for New Mexico David Adams, and Alray Nelson, lead organizer for the Coalition for Diné Equality. NM Political Report sat down with Cheyenne Antonio, project coordinator for the Coalition’s anti-sex trafficking initiatives, and Kimberly Benally, the Coalition’s training and development manager, after the two-day summit to hear some of their takeaways. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity. NMPR: Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall were both invited but didn’t attend this year’s summit, in part because they were in D.C. voting to pass FOSTA, federal legislation intended to hold websites accountable for platforming activities related to prostitution and sex trafficking.