OLYMPIA, Wash. — Editor's note: The above video on the case of a missing Tulalip woman that's highlighting missing Indigenous women cases originally aired Dec. 9, 2021.
A newly proposed bill would create a statewide alert for missing Indigenous women and people in Washington, the first of its kind in the United States.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and State Representative Debra Lekanoff (D-Anacortes) announced the proposed bill on Monday.
House Bill 1725 would function the same as a "Silver Alert," which is used when a vulnerable adult goes missing.
When activated, the alert would broadcast details of the missing person on message signs, highway advisory messages and through press releases to local and regional media.
“The rate of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Washington is a crisis,” Ferguson said. “We must do everything we can to address this problem. This effective tool will help quickly and safely locate missing Indigenous women and people.”
Indigenous women and people go missing more than four times than white women, according to research conducted by the Urban Indian Health Institute in Seattle.
“The unheard screams of missing and murdered people will be heard across Washington state with the implementation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Alert System,” Rep. Lekanoff said.
According to the attorney general's office, similar alerts like the Silver Alert have a high success rate.
The proposed bill comes after Washington's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force held a public meeting in December and heard from survivors, family members and community members.
Lawmakers created the task force to organize a statewide response to the disproportionate number of Indigenous people who have gone missing, been murdered or experienced domestic violence. The task force provides recommendations to the state legislature to address these issues.
For more information on the task force, visit atg.wa.gov.