Missing and murdered indigenous women and people task force releases first report

Families, Advocates Mark Day Of Awareness For Native Victims
Mark Thiessen

FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, file photo, Jeannie Hovland, the deputy assistant secretary for Native American Affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, poses with a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women mask, in Anchorage, Alaska, while attending the opening of a Lady Justice Task Force cold case office in Anchorage, which will investigate missing and murdered Indigenous women. From the nation’s capitol to Indigenous communities across the American Southwest, top government officials, family members and advocates are gathering Wednesday, May 5, 2021, as part of a call to action to address the ongoing problem of violence against Indigenous women and children.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force (MMIWP) issued its first report this month. The report included 10 recommendations to address gaps in services, and respond to violence against Indigenous communities.  

According to the press release, violence against women and the Indigenous community as a whole “continues to be underreported and misunderstood throughout Indian Country and the United States.”

The task force’s goal with the report was to identify and dismantle systemic and institutional barriers that impact the response to violence against these communities. The task force outlined the following strategies: 

  1. Establishing a fully funded MMIWP-focused cold case unit within the Attorney General’s Office
  2. Standardizing the use of the National Missing & Unidentified Persons System
  3. Expanding the scope of MMIWP data and research to all genders
  4. Working with law enforcement agencies to expand coordination
  5. Promoting inclusive language
  6. Improving communication and transparency in MMIWP cases
  7. Updating the Missing Person’s Resource
  8. Reducing or waiving fees for MMIWP public events
  9. Continuing to support sovereignty and self-determination
  10. Extending the MMIWP Task Force timeline through June 30, 2025. It’s current timeline is set for 2023. 

The task force will continue to meet bi-weekly in order to better understand the scope of violence against the Indigenous people, and address it.