Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandBiden taps Obama-era official to lead Fish and Wildlife Service The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Cheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member MORE on Thursday called for more attention for missing and murdered Indigenous women while discussing the case of 22-year old Gabby Petito, whose death was ruled a homicide.
Haaland told reporters that her “heart goes out” to both Petito and “so many Indigenous women...whose families have endured this for the last 500 years.”
“Hopefully the folks who are writing the news and broadcasting the news will understand that these women are also friends, neighbors, classmates, work colleagues,” she said.
She said that when she sees pictures of missing Indigenous women, “I see my sisters, I see my mother, I see my aunties or my nieces or even my own child.
She added that every person who is a victim “deserves attention and deserves to be cared about.”
The Justice Department said in 2012 that on some reservations, Native women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average.
Haaland is the country’s first Native American cabinet secretary.
She has said that at the helm of the Interior Department, one of her priorities will be addressing the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women. Earlier this year, she created a unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to investigate missing and murdered Native Americans.
Petito’s remains were found near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming after she was reported missing earlier this month.
Her case has received significant media coverage, which has received some backlash as critics point out that cases involving people of color often do not receive the same level of attention.