“It’s not just an Indian issue, it’s not just an Indian responsibility. Our sisters, our aunties, our grandmothers are going missing every day...and it’s been going on for far too long.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday signed into law a bill that creates a first-in-the-nation statewide alert system for missing Indigenous people, to help address a silent crisis that has plagued Indian Country in this state and nationwide.
The law sets up a system similar to Amber Alerts and so-called silver alerts, which are used respectively for missing children and vulnerable adults in many states. It was spearheaded by Democratic Rep. Debra Lekanoff, the only Native American lawmaker currently serving in the Washington state Legislature, and championed by Indigenous leaders statewide.
Photo courtesy of Ted Warren A/P
“I am proud to say that the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s and People’s Alert System came from the voices of our Native American leaders,” said Lekanoff, a member of the Tlingit tribe and the bill’s chief sponsor.