Indigenous women going missing is a crisis that needed a serious solution and Rep. Debra Lenkanoff was adamant to help with just that.
Earlier this month, the Washington state lawmaker introduced legislation that would implement an alert system specially for Indigenous women, per The Guardian.
This will be the first system of its type in the U.S., helping locate individuals and creating improved community between government agencies, while increasing awareness about the crisis.
Lenkanoff said, “this isn’t just an Indian issue, this is really a crisis that all Washingtonians need to take responsibility for. We want to hear her screams when she’s being torn away from her family. And this alert system is her scream.”
Washington’s attorney general Bob Ferguson, who worked with Lenkanoff on the legislation, said, “the more this is in the dark corners of our state and that we’re not talking about (it) and we’re not sharing information, the more this crisis is going to continue.”
- “I think an important step, one of many, but an important step to address the crisis, is to daylight it.”
Exact data on the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women is hard to compile, but according to information gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1999 to 2019, homicide was the third-leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls ages 12 to 30.
- Utah ranks top 10 among states with the highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women cases, according to an Urban Indian Health Institute report.
- And experts indicate that these numbers are much higher than what the data suggests, per U.S. News, but systemic racism, jurisdictional confusion and poor data collection is why these cases are underreported.