Cantwell Statement on the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons
EDMONDS, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement on the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons:
“There are hundreds of cases of murdered or missing Indigenous people nationwide. This epidemic is unacceptable. Indigenous people deserve to have the same rights and same protections under the law, so we must work with urgency to continue to improve reporting and give communities additional tools they need to protect Indigenous people,” Cantwell said.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly half of all Indigenous women in the United States have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner; one in three will be raped in their lifetime; and on some reservations, women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average. A 2018 report by the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) found 506 unsolved cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls nationwide. The report also found that Washington state had the second-highest number of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the U.S. Of 71 urban areas studied, Seattle had the highest number of murdered Indigenous women, and Tacoma had the highest number of missing cases. “This report is the evidence that we need... the problem is more than real – it’s horrifying. And we need action,” Senator Cantwell said as she joined SHIB to release the report in November 2018.
Addressing the epidemic of violence against Indigenous people has long been a priority for Senator Cantwell. In 2018, Cantwell joined the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) to release its first report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in 71 urban areas throughout the United States. Shortly after the release of that report, Cantwell and her colleagues on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee voted to advance Savanna’s Act, which Cantwell co-sponsored. Cantwell fought for the law’s passage from its introduction until it finally became law in October 2020.
In April 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the creation of a new missing and murdered unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) to increase the resources and coordination among agencies at the federal level to address the crisis.
Video of Senator Cantwell speaking at the release of the Seattle Indian Health Board’s report in 2018 is HERE.
Video of Senator Cantwell speaking in May 2019 on the Senate Floor about the legislation is HERE.
Video of Senator Cantwell speaking in November 2019 after Savanna’s Act passed through committee is HERE.
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