A year after Mary Johnson's disappearance, federal officials are finally acting on the crisis of missing Indigenous people in America
Even though family members have posted flyers, put up a billboard on a local interstate, and a reward for information was offered by the FBI, Johnson, like many other missing Indigenous women in the United States, has not been found.
For years, families and activists have demanded that authorities direct more attention and resources to cases involving missing and murdered Indigenous women, arguing their cases are often overlooked or dismissed.
Federal and state officials have recently publicly acknowledged that there is a "crisis of violence" against Native Americans, and have launched efforts to address it, but advocates say their response is not enough.
The rate of prosecution has not increased," said Annita Lucchesi, executive director of the Sovereign Bodies Institute , an organization that has been tabulating cases of missing and murdered Native Americans for several years.
Federal officials are stepping up effortsThe issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people is now under a spotlight, with federal officials announcing actions to bolster resources to address it.
Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department will dedicate over $90 million in award grants to launch a committee dedicated to tackling the crisis of missing or murdered Indigenous people.
President Joe Biden last week signed an executive order to help improve public safety and justice for Native Americans.
Biden's order and the Justice Department's financial commitments come only weeks after the Government Accountability Office released an analysis of the federal response to this crisis of violence.
While there are four federal databases that include some information on missing and murdered Indigenous people, the report's authors did not find comprehensive data on the crisis, which prevents federal officials from knowing the full extent of the problem.
Within a month after being confirmed, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland took steps to address this crisis of violence against Indigenous people.
Kevin Stitt signed Ida's law earlier this year to secure federal funding to create a local bureau of the Office of Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons.
"What's the point of creating (new) initiatives to address this crisis when the laws they've already passed are not being implemented?"