The impact of the Doctrine of Discovery–a doctrine created to give Christian explorers the right to claim lands not inhabited by Christians–is still present in the U.S. As the original inhabitants of this land, Native Americans continue to fight for their natural rights to be respected and valued.
In December, President Trump announced that Bears Ears National Monument would be reduced by 85 percent from 1.3 million acres to 220,00 acres of federally protected land. As Indigenous land, it contains generations of ancestry, history and tradition.
Human trafficking and violence against Native women has also been a large concern. Congress has found that Native Americans experience violent crimes two and a half times the national average and U.S. Attorneys declined to prosecute 52 percent of those violent crimes.
It is difficult to investigate these cases because of the jurisdictional structure and lack of public safety in Native American communities. Savanna’s Act, which was introduced in 2017, would respond to these concerns by creating protocols for government agencies to follow and raising the visibility and the awareness of this issue.
Going forward, policy changes and protections for Native American people and land must be a priority for Congress. We should be compelled to advocate for their concerns on a federal level. –Cherelle M. Dessus