Advocates and politicians call for better protections from violence for Native Americans

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Sen. Tina Smith and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan
DFL Sen. Tina Smith (center) along with fellow Democrat Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan (left), discussed problems prosecuting perpetrators and supporting Native American victims during a meeting at the state capitol.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

The re-authorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act should include better protections for Native Americans, says Sen. Tina Smith, who met with a coalition working to address the problem Tuesday at the state Capitol.

"When I realized that there were 6,000 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and only 118 had even been entered into the Department of Justice database, I mean, that to me is such a symbol of the invisibility Smith," D-Minn., told reporters after the meeting.

"That invisibility is something that we have to change," she said.

Smith says half of Native American women report experiencing sexual violence.

In addition to calling for an updated re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Smith is behind legislation that would better track violence against Native Americans.