Tester Blasts FBI for Failing to Keep Indian Country Safe

Tester to FBI Director Wray: your responsibility “does not stop at Indian reservation borders”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today blasted the FBI for failing to keep Indian Country safe and neglecting to provide help to local jurisdictions when crimes occur outside of an Indian reservation.

Tester wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray in response to the death of Kaysera Stops at Pretty Places in Hardin, Mont., just off the Crow Reservation – at least the 27th missing or murdered Indigenous woman case in Big Horn County.

“The violence that Native people experience does not stop at Indian reservation borders, and neither do the FBI’s responsibilities,” Tester wrote. “With such a high number of cases occurring short distances from Indian reservations, the FBI must be more proactive and provide all available resources to counties investigating crimes against Native Americans.”

Tester pressed Wray on what resources the FBI provides to local jurisdictions to investigate violent crimes against Native people, and whether the FBI provides assistance or training to jurisdictions near Indian reservations or with high Native American populations.

He also asked what actions the FBI has taken to prioritize preventing, investigating, and prosecuting crimes against Native Americans, and whether the agency has increased the number of FBI agents in Indian Country.

“The federal government has a trust and treaty responsibility to keep Native communities safe,” Tester continued. “To meet this responsibility, the FBI must work with Tribes, state and local law enforcement, and surrounding communities to combat the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis.”

As a member and former chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has led the charge to address the MMIW crisis. Two Tester-backed bills to improve public safety in Indian Country passed through the Senate Indian Affairs Committee earlier today, and he criticized Attorney General William Barr for failing to address Montana’s public safety needs and neglecting to address the MMIW crisis, human trafficking, and methamphetamine use.

Tester is also calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Leadership to bring up and pass the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 to ensure that Tribes have the authority to bring perpetrators to justice and provide survivors with the resources they need.

More information on Tester’s work to combat the MMIW crisis is available HERE.