Tester aims to eliminate human trafficking in Indian Country

Senator follows up on listening session with request for more resources from the federal government

(BIG SANDY, Mont.)-Following up on his listening session in Fort Peck, Senator Jon Tester last week sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting further investigation and more resources to eliminate human trafficking in Indian Country.

Tester, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, asked the GAO to identify Native American and Alaska Native related statistics and the impact human trafficking has on Indian Country. Last August, Tester was joined by U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter and Native American officials for a listening session related to the rise of human and drug trafficking spilling out of the Bakken and into Native American communities.

“There is very little information available for law enforcement and prosecutors in Native American communities to address human trafficking,” Tester said after signing the letter. “Additional resources will allow folks in Indian Country to raise awareness and eliminate human trafficking among Native American and Alaska Natives.”

Tester noted that most human trafficking research has primarily been focused on cases involving international women and children brought into the United States and far less attention has been given to researching domestic trafficking, specifically Native American and Alaska Native victims.

Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 and subsequent reauthorizations have provided resources to combat human trafficking domestically, but lacked much needed attention to Indian Country.

Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) co-signed the letter.

You can read Tester’s letter to the GAO HERE.