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Lawmakers look to designate May 5 as National Day for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls

The resolution calls for more work that needs to be done to address the cases of missing and murdered Native women and girls nationwide.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Lawmakers submitted a resolution expressing their support for designating May 5 as the ‘‘National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls."

According to the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) organization, Indigenous women and girls face murder rates 10 times higher than women of all other ethnicities. Murder is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous Women.

The lawmakers' resolution aims to demonstrate solidarity with the families of missing and murdered indigenous women and to commemorate the lives of American Indian and Alaska Native women whose cases are documented and undocumented in public records and the media.

The resolution also calls for more work that needs to be done to address this nationwide crisis.

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA 4th District) said in a statement that while Native Americans make up 2% of Washington's population, Native Women account for 7% of the state’s reported missing women. 

"Those statistics are unacceptable, and despite these sad and staggering numbers in our community, the closest Cold Case Task Force Office is currently located in Billings, Montana,” Newhouse said in the statement.

Newhouse said establishing a Cold Case Task Force Office in Yakima is imperative to keep moving forward in addressing this crisis. 

"We must continue to take up the banner for those who no longer are able to. They deserve answers, and I will continue working to deliver them,” Newhouse said. 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (D-WA 5th District) said in a written statement that many women in the U.S. find themselves living in fear of becoming a victim of violence and predatory behavior. 

"This is especially true in Washington State, where Native American women are murdered or go missing at the second-highest rate in the country,” Rodgers is in a statement. “This is a statistic we should be doing everything in our power to change for the tribes in our Eastern Washington community."

During the proclamation resolution lawmakers remembered Hanna Harris, a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe who went missing on July 4, 2013, and who would have turned 30 years old on May 5. 

“By designating May 5th as National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls, we hope to increase awareness of these serious disparities and call greater attention to the work that still needs to be done,"  Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA 8th District) said in a written statement.

A bill creating an alert system for missing indigenous women and people within Washington passed the state Senate in March. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Debra Lekanoff from Skagit County, would create an early alert system that would distribute information about the missing person, similar to a Silver Alert.  

In Spokane, the Kalispel Tribe and Northern Quest held a ceremony on Thursday for the National Awareness Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The tribe displayed hanging empty red dresses to symbolize the 65 women who currently missing in Washington State.

The tribe is also matching up to $2,500 in donations to the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition from May 5 - 15.