Today, First Lady Melania Trump was briefed by the President’s Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System (IHS).
Mrs. Trump was joined by several members of the Task Force and others who had made important contributions to its report, which was released today. President Trump formed the Task Force in March 2019 to provide recommendations to deter, mitigate, and respond to any allegations of future child sexual abuse in the IHS.
The First Lady opened the session by welcoming participants and thanking them for their work on behalf of the well-being of children, and noted that “strong Native American communities are strong American communities.”
Task Force Co-Chair Trent Shores introduced the members of the Task Force and contributors, and provided an overview of the Task Force’s efforts and findings, including the importance of working hand in hand with tribal leaders throughout the process. Other members of the Task Force shared their input, and a discussion of the Task Force’s recommendations and next steps followed. The First Lady emphasized the need for children to feel safe speaking up about abuse, and about the importance of reducing the stigma around mental health so that children feel secure and know they will be heard.
The First Lady closed the briefing by thanking the Task Force for their important work. She also shared her gratitude for the Cherokee Nation’s invitation to travel to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, noting that she looks forward to visiting when it is feasible to do so.
The First Lady concluded by stating: “I know that this Administration inherited many of these problems, but I am very proud that you are still working to protect children to prevent such abuse from happening again, or if and when it does, to immediately mitigate it. I am sure that the men and women of the Indian Health Service share that goal, and I look forward to following up to ensure that they have the training and resources they need to provide the finest possible care to Native American communities.”
Trent Shores, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma and Task Force Co-Chair
Bo Leach, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Indian Affairs
Stephanie Knapp, Child/Adolescent Forensic Interviewer, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Office for Victims Assistance, Child Victim Services Unit
Shannon Bears Cozzoni, Tribal Liaison and Assistant United States Attorney, US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma
Curt Muller, Special Agent, HHS Office of the Inspector General
Santee Lewis, Executive Director, Navajo Nation (Washington, DC office)
Stephanie Grisham, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff & Spokesperson to the First Lady
Emma Doyle, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy to the First Lady
Kellyanne Conway, Assistant to the President and Senior Counselor