Missoula’s Briana Lamb, Advocate for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, to be Tester’s Guest at State of the Union
Lamb Has Been Driving Force Behind Senator’s Efforts to Address MMIW Epidemic
(U.S. Senate) – Missoula’s Briana Lamb will be U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union Address. Lamb, a local activist and advocate, was the driving force behind Tester’s push to organize the recent Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) epidemic.
Tester first met Lamb at an urban Indian roundtable discussion he held in Missoula last August. After she told him about the rate of missing Native American women in Montana that year, Tester vowed to get answers and bring more national attention to the issue.
“Briana has been an invaluable source of insight and inspiration as we’ve worked to start a national conversation about this epidemic,” Tester said. “I hope her presence on Tuesday will help push that conversation forward and inspire others to take up arms in the fight against sexual and domestic violence.”
Briana Lamb is Aaniiih (Gros Ventre) from Fort Belknap, Montana with roots in Nez Perce country, who lives in Missoula, Montana with her two boys. She is an organizer, researcher, and activist working on and supporting community-based solutions and preventative measures regarding interpersonal violence in Indian Country. She has been involved in the MMIW movement for the past 6 years, organizing walks, vigils, teach-ins, and various other events to bring awareness to the issue. Recently, she has focused on policymaking and is working with Tester’s office to expand MMIW awareness in the United States.
“I’m very honored to have been asked to be Senator Tester’s guest at the State of the Union and applaud the stance he has taken on the MMIW issue,” Lamb said. “He has chosen to stand in solidarity with efforts to halt this crisis and protect the lives of Native women and girls. This shouldn’t be an Indigenous issue, but an issue for everyone.”
As a senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has taken a three-pronged approach to addressing the MMIW epidemic focused on raising awareness, providing resources to support survivors, and empowering tribes to bring assailants to justice. He fought for and helped lead a Senate hearing on the issue in December, bringing together local activists and federal law enforcement representatives to find a path forward.
Tester also recently helped reintroduce two landmark pieces of legislation aimed at combatting the MMIW epidemic. Savanna’s Act is a bipartisan bill aimed at improving information sharing between tribal and federal law enforcement agencies and increasing data collection on missing persons throughout Indian Country.
The SURVIVE Act would give tribes access to a critical source of funding they can use to help survivors of sexual and domestic violence get back on their feet. Last year, Tester secured a historic $133 million to help Native American communities assist survivors of violent crime through the Crime Victims Fund. The SURVIVE Act would make this funding permanent by establishing an annual five percent set aside specifically for tribes.