Missing Native American Women meeting

TOPPENISH, WA - Meetings have continued to take place to help gather as much information as possible to understand why hundreds if not thousands of Indigenous women are missing in Washington state.

These efforts are part of House Bill 2951 in which the Washington State Patrol (WSP) is allowed to conduct a study to try and determine what resources can be used to increase reporting and how to better the investigating of Indigenous women.

More than seven meetings have taken place.

On Monday a second meeting took place in Yakima County to hear from the Yakama Nation and it was revealed that there was confusion on how to report a missing person.

"What has kind of come forward is just understanding who to make the report to. You know in some cases where a person is missing just knowing what jurisdiction to go to. Is it their local, is it the county, is it the city and at that point and time who do they follow back up with," said Craig Bill, Executive Director, Washington State Governor's Office of Indian Affairs

Members of Yakama Nation say these meetings are allowing their voices to finally be heard.

"Everybody is making each other aware of the situation and where we stand and that's the first thing that you have to do in any situation, is to make people aware of what the problem is," said Charlene Tillequots, Yakama Nation member.

Lottie Sam, another Yakama Nation member says that in the past Native women have been scared to report any kind of issues they experience.

"With a couple of the victims that had provided testimony to me they felt that, they did try to call in, and when they did call in that they weren't taken seriously about being assaulted because they were a women," said Sam.

Information will continue to be gathered until June 1st, which is when WSP must report the results of the study to Legislature .

WSP must include the number of missing Native American women in the state of Washington, address the barriers that Native Americans encounter when reporting and what resources can be used. Along with a solution for this ongoing issue.

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