Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Rapid City and Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota to have a robust government-to-government discussion with administration officials and tribal leaders on matters of tribal safety and domestic violence. The tribal listening conference coincided with the one year anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) into law—a measure aimed at helping both tribal governments and the federal government better address the unique public safety challenges facing Native American communities across the country.
Attorney General Holder also participated in a special wreath laying ceremony at Wounded Knee.
Nearly half a century ago, following his tenure as Attorney General, Robert Kennedy also traveled to Pine Ridge to signal the U.S. government’s commitment to ensuring peace, security, opportunity, justice on tribal lands. President Bill Clinton returned to the site in 1999. “Today, this commitment lives on – and it has been renewed, and strengthened, by this Administration,” said Attorney General Holder.
“It is a profound honor to be in Pine Ridge, and to bring greetings from the President, and from my colleagues at the Department of Justice. It is a privilege to join with you all today – not only to remember the past, and the loss we commemorate on this site – but to plan for the future we seek, and – together – must build.
“This is a sacred place – one hallowed by the tragic events that occurred here more than 120 years ago – but also defined by the resolve, the healing, and the courage it has come to represent in the decades since. Today, it’s my honor to lay this wreath on his behalf – and on behalf of all those who have struggled, and who continue to fight, to ensure peace, safety, opportunity, and justice on tribal lands.”
Soon after he came into office, Attorney General Eric Holder identified building and sustaining safe and secure tribal communities as one of the Department of Justice’s top priorities—in line with his key goals of addressing violent crime and protecting our nation’s most vulnerable. In June of 2009, the Department launched a wide-ranging initiative to strengthen public safety in Indian Country. Since that time, the Department has taken a number of steps to deepen its commitment to tribal communities and to develop more effective partnership with tribal leaders, police, prosecutors, courts, and advocates to combat crime in tribal communities.