By Maria Polletta

An Arizona task force will investigate how to combat violence against Indigenous women and girls starting Aug. 27, a state lawmaker said Tuesday, shortly after the governor conducted a ceremonial signing of the bill establishing the committee.

Jennifer Jermaine, the Chandler Democrat who sponsored House Bill 2570, said the 21-member task force was gearing up to study the scope of the "epidemic crisis." 

"Four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, and in some communities across the U.S., the murder rate of indigenous women is 10 times the national average," Gov. Doug Ducey said at the signing.

Flanked by lawmakers, tribal officials and relatives of women who had disappeared or been murdered, he called the situation "a heart-wrenching reality that Arizona’s tribal communities have been experiencing for many years."

"This noble objective is something that should bring us all together," Ducey said.