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'This Is A Crisis': ‘Dateline’ Reports On The Epidemic Of Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women

“This is a crisis that’s been happening in our country since colonization, and it’s very, very deep," Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland tells "Dateline."

By Gina Tron
Deb Haaland Lissa Yellow Bird Dateline

A “Dateline NBC” special will report on the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and the growing movement that is demanding answers.

The hour-long special, called “The Secrets of Spirit Lake,” features an interview with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve in a presidential Cabinet.

“I’ve lived that life and I want their voices to be represented here,” Haaland says in the show’s trailer, regarding Indigenous women.   

In 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, the National Crime Information Center reported.

“This is a crisis that’s been happening in our country since colonization, and it’s very, very deep,” Haaland tells "Dateline." “And so I’m grateful that we’re seeing some action on it right now.”

She said that taking on the epidemic is a priority for her.

"Native women are 10 times more likely to come up missing or murdered," Deborah Shipman, founder of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women told Oxygen.com earlier this year. "That is through the legacy of racism."

Friday’s episode will also feature an interview with Lissa Yellow Bird, an advocate and investigator who helps solve Indigenous cases. It was her own investigation into the disappearance of her niece, Carla Yellow Bird, that revealed flaws in the system to her.

The special is part of a week-long series, which focuses on missing and murdered Indigenous women called “The Vanished.”  Other reports in the series will focus on an Indigenous family searching for their missing three-year-old child. Survivors of Holy Childhood, a Michigan boarding school that allegedly abused Native American children for decades, will also be interviewed. In another interview, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson will discuss a new state task force that plans to focuses on solving cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

"The Secrets of Spirit Lake" airs on Friday at 10 pm EST,

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