An Alaska Native testified Thursday in front of a U.S. Senate Committee addressing missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women.

Alaska's senior senator, Lisa Murkowski, was among those who heard testimony from Patricia Alexander, a representative of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

“While violence against Native women occurs at higher rates than any other ethnic group in the United States, it is at its worst in Alaska,  Alexander said. "A full 50 percent of Alaska Native women will have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. I am one."

She went on to talk about several women from her region who have been killed.

"It has been more than a year since the unsolved death of 19-year-old Jade Williams of Kake," Alexander said. "Nearly a year since the unsolved death of 37-year-old Francile Turpin of Klawock. And two and a half years since the murder of 28-year-old Judylee Guthrie, also of Klawock."

The hearing also highlighted what can be done at a federal level to help investigate crimes against women and girls.

Murkowski talked about some of the challenges of calling in law enforcement and emergency response to rural areas of the state.

"Many of these communities don’t have 911 service," Murkowski said. "In the event that you do, if you are to call 911 or local law enforcement, you’re likely to get an answering machine, if you get anything at all."

In November Sen. Murkowski introduced a report from the Seattle based Urban Indian Health Institute on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The report ranked Alaska as the fourth highest state for the number of such cases in the nation.

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