Washington State Passes Law to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous WomenTweet
“When we address our epidemic of Missing Native Women, this will open the doors to address our Missing Native Men and Two-spirited People, as well as our Missing non-Indigenous Nations. This is the beginning of helping our Washington State families heal. Hopefully other states will follow.” ~Earth-Feather Sovereign
The Washington State legislature has passed a first of its kind bill aimed at addressing the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
HB 2951 “directs the Washington State Patrol to work with tribes, local law enforcement and the Department of Justice. The goal is to understand how to increase resources for reporting and identifying missing Native American women.”
The bill states:
The legislature finds that Native American women experience violence at much higher rates than other populations. A recent federal study reported that Native American women face murder rates over ten times the national average. However, many of these crimes often are unsolved and even unreported because there are also very high rates of disappearances among Native American women. Furthermore, there is no comprehensive data collection system for reporting or tracking missing Native American women. This gap in reporting and investigation places Native American women even more vulnerable to violence.
The legislature further finds that although violence against Native American women has been a neglected issue in society, there is a growing awareness of this crisis of violence against Native American women, and a recognition of the need for the criminal justice system to better serve and protect Native American women. The legislature intends to find ways to connect state, tribal, and federal resources to create partnerships in finding ways to solve this crisis facing Native American women in our state.
The state patrol must work with the governor’s office of Indian affairs to convene meetings with tribal and local law enforcement partners, federally recognized tribes, and urban Indian organizations to determine the scope of the problem, identify barriers, and find ways to create partnerships to increase reporting and investigation of missing Native American women. Consultation and collaboration with federally recognized tribes must be conducted in respect for government-to-government relations.
According to Northwest Public Broadcasting, “Supporters of the new law say Native American women are victims of homicide at rates many times the national average. And they have high rates of disappearances. But the exact numbers aren’t known because there is no comprehensive reporting system.”
On May 5th a MMIW walk will be held starting at the Peace Arch on the Canadian border to Olympia, WA.
by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)
Matt Remle (Lakota) is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire and the co-founder of Mazaska Talks. Follow @wakiyan7