Washington could have the first missing indigenous alert system

By on Tuesday, January 4th, 2022 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Monday that he is working with Rep. Debra Lekanoff (D-Anacortes) to propose a bill in the next legislative session to create a statewide alert system to help identify and locate missing Indigenous women and people. The alert, similar to “silver alerts” for missing vulnerable adults, will broadcast information about missing Indigenous people on message signs and in highway advisory radio messages when activated, as well as through press releases to local and regional media.

If it passes, House Bill 1725 will be the first alert system specifically for missing Indigenous people in the country. Indigenous people, particularly women, go missing and are murdered at rates higher than any other ethnic group in the United States. In Washington, more than four times as many Indigenous women go missing than white women, according to research conducted by the Urban Indian Health Institute in Seattle.

“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.”

“The unheard screams of missing and murdered people will be heard across Washington state with the implementation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Alert System,” Lekanoff said. “Too many Indigenous mothers, sisters, wives and daughters have been torn from their families and their children raised without mothers. This crisis impacts every one of our families and communities and it takes collaboration among all governing bodies, law enforcement and media to bring awareness and stop these horrific crimes.”

Every legislative session Ferguson introduces a slate of Attorney General Request bills. Attorney General Request is a formal designation for bills proposed by his office. Since 2013, 27 Attorney General Request bills have been signed into law.