Team announced to oversee task force on missing, murdered Indigenous women in Washington

Mmiw

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Thursday announced the team which will oversee the newly-formed Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force.

The task force will assess systemic causes behind the high rate of disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and people, Ferguson’s office said.

According to statistics from the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), Indigenous women go missing and are murdered at higher rates than any other ethnic group in the U.S. They are also 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted, and nearly 50% of Indigenous women have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner.

Most notably, the scope of this problem is not fully known, as there is not an accurate count of how many Indigenous women are affected.

The task force will then report its finding in two reports to the governor and legislature in August 2022 and June 2023. It will also build on legislation passed in 2018 and 2019 to improve data collection related to MMIW and hire two MMIW liaisons in the Washington State Patrol.

“This exceptional team will be crucial to the work of our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force,” Ferguson said. “They are ready to get to work. Tribal communities have experienced disproportionate violence for too long. This announcement is an important step forward in addressing systemic inequities and improving our state’s response.”

The AGO launched the task force in May on the National Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women Day of Remembrance.

The task force staff includes:

  • Annie Forsman-Adams from the Suquamish Tribe, who has been a leader in addressing violence and victimization in Indigenous communities since 2011
  • Asa K. Washines from the Yakima Nation, previously serving on the Yakima Tribal Council and is currently the Tribal Liaison for the AGO
  • Ellen Austin Hall, Senior Policy and External Affairs Manager for the AGO and its federal liaison

Staff will meet this year to appoint task force members, which include members from each of the four legislative caucuses, five members from federally-recognized tribes, two Indigenous women or family members who have experienced gender-based violence, the Washington State Patrol chief, and members from various Indigenous health groups and regional agencies such as NATIVE Project and the Association of Washington Cities.

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