A bill that would take a major step toward advancing the investigations of missing and murdered indigenous persons was signed into law Wednesday. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast reports from the state Capitol.
SATTGAST: Surrounded by members of Native American tribes from throughout Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill intended to break the silence surrounding missing and murdered indigenous people – and bring justice to the families.
INSLEE: “This legislation is one more step toward ensuring these daughters, mothers and friends are not invisible. They are a treasured part of our community. And they will not be forgotten. And with that I’m signing this bill.”
SATTGAST: House Bill 1713, authored by Goldendale Republican Representative Gina Mosbrucker, would set up two tribal liaisons within the Washington State Patrol to help in the investigations of missing and murdered indigenous people.
MOSBRUCKER: “The end game for me is to find the missing family members. It’s going to take legislation. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take collaboration between tribal and non-tribal to look together. We have many resources at Washington State Patrol. So it will be a nice, collaborative work to allow them to use resources to make sure immediately, within 48 hours, hopefully, we start finding these missing family members.”
SATTGAST: The bill also requires the State Patrol to develop a best practices protocol for law enforcement response to missing indigenous person reports. And it requires the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to provide the State Patrol with government-to-government training.
Colville Confederated Tribal member Earth-Feather Sovereign, who brought this issue to Mosbrucker, said the most significant part of this measure is. . .
SOVEREIGN: “That we’re actually being heard. And we’re touching so many people’s hearts.”
SATTGAST: But Earth-Feather Sovereign says there’s still much work left to be done to break the cultural barriers, find those who are murdered and missing, and end the injustice against indigenous people. The bill becomes effective in late July. John Sattgast, Olympia.