The Washington State House has passed a bill that seeks to increase efforts to identify missing Native American women in the state.
A US Justice Department report indicates 4 out of 5 Native American women have experienced violence in their lives. And many families feel the state can do more to track and locate those who have disappeared.
House Bill 2951 would help address the issue by directing the State Patrol to conduct a study on how to better identify and report missing Native American women.
Republican representative Gina McCabe from Goldendale says it’s uncertain how big of a problem this could be.
“It’s not only that we have this large amount, we think, which is alarming I itself that we don’t have a data base. That addresses this issue for Native American women. And it’s also alarming that were not able to talk on an off across reservations that we may have missing people,” McCabe said.
At a hearing in the House Committee on Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs, Kayla Crocker testified of her experiences in trying to locate her Native American Aunt, who disappeared over 2 months ago.
“Using my cellphone and the local library to get a layout from google, I copied and pasted her picture, and printed it out, because when I called the local authorities, the help I needed just wasn’t there. The sadness I felt in my heart that the resources I needed seemed impossible to get in touch with. What was I supposed to do?” Said Crocker.
The State Patrol study would be required to come up with data on the missing number of Native American women in the state, barriers to providing more state resources on the issue, and any recommendations on proposals to address the problem.
The bill passed unanimously in the House, and now moves to the state senate.