Native American women are turning up missing and murdered across Washington and few know what happened to them, how they disappeared, or the circumstances of their deaths. A state lawmaker from Goldendale is working to change this – and the House of Representatives passed her legislation Tuesday to provide some additional tools. John Sattgast with Washington House Republicans reports.
SATTGAST: It’s a serious problem across the United States, in Canada, and here in Washington state. Indigenous women – and even men – just disappear. Their families have no idea what happened. And existing cultural barriers between tribes and law enforcement make investigations difficult and justice and retrieval an elusive goal.
Republican Representative Gina Mosbrucker has made it her mission to change this. She says there are three images in her mind that keep her up at night as she thinks about this issue. . .
MOSBRUCKER: “The first image is of a red dress sewn by the tribes that’s tied to overpasses. There’s no one in the red dress. It’s just a red dress hanging in the wind. It’s a symbol of the Native American missing women who should be in there. The other image has to do with a handprint of paint across the mouth of a Native American woman. And the third one is a 12-year-old Native American woman who’s holding a sign that simply says the words, ‘Am I next?’”
SATTGAST: Last year, Mosbrucker’s bill passed that brought tribal groups together with the Washington State Patrol to study and identify the issue of missing Native American women and report recommendations to the Legislature.
On Tuesday, the state House of Representatives unanimously approved House Bill 1713, authored by Mosbrucker. It would set up two tribal liaisons within the Washington State Patrol to help in the investigations of missing and murdered indigenous people.
Mosbrucker says it’s time to find out what happened and provide families with the help and justice they deserve.
The bill is now on its way to the Senate. John Sattgast, Olympia.