wa capitol

Washington state Capitol building.

OLYMPIA — A bill before the Legislature would create an alert in Washington to help identify and locate missing indigenous women and people.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working with Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Anacortes, on House Bill 1725.

The alert, similar to silver alerts for missing vulnerable adults, would broadcast information about missing indigenous people on message signs and in highway advisory radio messages when activated, as well as through press releases to local and regional media.

It would be the first alert system specifically for missing and murdered indigenous women and people in the country, said Ferguson’s announcement.

Indigenous women and people go missing and are murdered at rates higher than any other ethnic group in the United States. In Washington, more than four times as many indigenous women go missing than white women, according to research conducted by the Urban Indian Health Institute in Seattle.

The state Legislature created the Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force as part of the effort to coordinate a statewide response to the situation of indigenous people who go missing, are the victims of homicide or experience other types of gender-based violence in urban and tribal communities.

The Attorney General’s Office is facilitating the task force, providing staffing and support for its work. Lekanoff is a member of the task force’s executive committee.

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