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Washington Gov. Inslee signs first U.S. alert system for missing Indigenous people

Washington Gov. Inslee signs first U.S. alert system for missing Indigenous people
Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., on Tuesday signed into law legislation to create the nation's first alert system for missing Indigenous people. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

April 1 (UPI) -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law to create the nation's first alert system for missing Indigenous people.

At the Tulalip Resort Casino on Thursday, the Democratic governor signed six tribal-related bills to protect this marginalized community, including legislation to create a missing indigenous person alert system similar to the existing AMBER alert emergency response system that disseminates information about missing children.

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The bill says the state will develop the missing indigenous person alert designations for local, state, tribal and other law enforcement agencies as well as radio and television stations and social media pages and sites to enhance the public's ability to assist in recovering abducted Indigenous people.

According to the Washington State Patrol, there are currently 114 missing indigenous people in the state.

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Teri Gobin, chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes, said Seattle with 45 cases has more missing and murdered indigenous people than any other city in the country.

She said it was another injury to tribal people to see their community members who go missing are ignored while others receive public and widespread announcements.

"Felt like our people didn't matter," she said. "And what's the important thing is bringing them home. Whether they've been trafficked, or they've been stolen or they've been murdered, we need to bring them home, home to their people so there could be some closure."

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"It's a wound that stays open," she said.

Inslee in signing the bill elaborated that Indigenous women comprise a disproportionate number of missing people.

"In cases where an individual has died, this bill will help families recover the remains of their loved ones while also honoring and respecting indigenous cultural practices," he said. "For women who are found, this bill will provide treatment so that they can start to recover from the trauma of their experience."

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