BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Justice Department is launching a new effort to curb high rates of sexual assault on American Indian reservations by setting up specialized "response teams" for rapes and other abuse.

A pilot program announced Wednesday will establish the joint federal-tribal teams on six Montana reservations over the next six months.

Federal statistics indicate that Indian and Alaska Native women are raped at a higher rate than any other race.

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West says such crimes often go unreported. But West says the sexual assault response teams could give victims new confidence in the criminal justice system.

The teams will be made up of federal and tribal prosecutors, victim advocates, health care providers, law enforcement and others.