A recently published CDC report helps uncover the characteristics of the killings of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people. Analyzed and reported for the first time, data from National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) show that of the 2,226 AI/AN homicides reported in 34 states and the District of Columbia from 2003-2018:
- The homicide rate is three times higher in AI/AN men than in women (12 versus 4 per 100,000)
- Approximately half of the victims lived (48%) or were killed (53%) in metropolitan areas
- One weapon is used in nearly half (48%) of homicides
- For female victims, 38% of the suspects were current or former close spouses
“This data comes at a critical time to address an urgent public health problem,” said Debra Houry, MD, MPH, Acting Principal Deputy Director at the CDC. “Our hope is that this report will help dispel the common misconception about homicides among American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. Now we need to use the data to support effective strategies to prevent homicide deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives.
In addition, the report found that the suspects in the AI/AN homicide:
- Most (80%) were young adult men and 42% were aged 18-34 years
- About one-third (32%) are AI/AN
- Most knew their victims – more than 60% of victims knew the suspect in their homicides
“Violence can be prevented, and data should guide our work,” Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, DrPH, MPH, acting director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “To stop violence against American Indian and Native peoples and communities in Alaska before it even begins, we need effective solutions that are culturally relevant, incorporate indigenous traditions, and take into account the factors that affected violence for all American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. “
This report includes many implications for prevention, and violence prevention efforts within AI/AN communities can have a greater impact if they adopt and adapt methods and values.
inherent in AI/AN communities. A critical strategy for preventing interpersonal violence is to teach safe and healthy relationship skills through social-emotional learning programs for young people. Programs such as Discovery Dating use the unique culture and community of AI/AN to shape positive outcomes, and a culturally adapted version Teaching Men to Men builds knowledge and positive attitudes about healthy masculinity, relationships, non-violent problem solving, and being an active spectator. Cultural practices can be linked to proven violence prevention programs like these for AI/AN people regardless of tribe or urban residency.
Missing or Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) is an issue that has gained national attention in recent years. Homicide was the fifth leading cause of death in 2019 for AI/AN men and the seventh leading cause of death among AI/AN women aged 1–54 years. AI/AN people also report high levels of intimate spouse violence, including physical or sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm to the current or former intimate spouse or partner. American Indian and Alaska Native people also experienced higher rates of negative childhood experiences, such as child abuse and neglect and family and community violence, which put AI/AN people down. at increased risk for other forms of violence, such as homicide. The risks associated with violence are historically increased (war, land loss, language, access to traditional means, and cultural identity), intergenerational (child and elderly abuse and neglect), and ongoing ( racism and unequal structure) traumas.
To help resolve the MMIP issue at the federal level, The Presidential Task Force on Missingexternal icon and Killed American Indians and Alaskans external iconNative, also known as Operation Lady Justice, was established in 2019 to improve the operation of the criminal justice system and to address the concerns of AI/AN communities about MMIP. In 2020, the Savanna’s Act was passed to increase government agency coordination to reduce violent crimes within tribal lands and against AI / AN people. The Not Invisible Act mandates the Department of Justice to review, revise, and improve law enforcement and justice protocols to address the MMIP.
Violence can be prevented, and in addition to existing AI/AN community efforts, the CDC supports the use and adaptation of technical violence prevention packages and the Veto Violence program and training tools.