December 11, 2014 – At the 14th National Indian Nations Conference, which convened today on the reservation of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in California, FBI Director James Comey pledged the Bureau’s “unshakeable” commitment to tribal nations.
The Bureau has unique and important responsibilities in Indian Country, Comey told more than 1,000 conference attendees. Investigating crimes and assisting victims there, he said, “will be a priority of the FBI under my stewardship.”
The Indian Nations conference, sponsored by the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime and coordinated by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, brings together Native Americans and a range of community and government agencies and service providers to share knowledge and develop programs to help those impacted by violence on tribal lands.
Comey noted that his interest in the FBI’s Indian Country work is driven by his responsibilities as Director, but also by something more—his family. Last summer, his two youngest daughters went on a mission trip to a reservation and came home, he said, “with their eyes wide open about the challenges on the reservation. They said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to do something, you’ve got to do more.’”
The FBI has investigative responsibility for 212 Indian reservations nationwide, and about 115 special agents work in our Indian Country program. Additionally, 41 victim specialists from our Office for Victim Assistance serve Native American crime victims. The Director acknowledged that those numbers should be higher.
To begin to address staffing and resource needs, Comey said, he has asked the Indian Country Crimes Unit and Office for Victim Assistance at FBI Headquarters to submit proposals detailing the need for increased staff, specialized training, and additional equipment. “I can’t do everything,” he explained, “but I know that I can do better.”