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News Release

Office of Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Attorney General Bob Ferguson on November 1 announced that the Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIW/P) Task Force will hold its first meeting, co-hosted with the Yakama Nation, on Dec. 2 and 3, 2021.

The meeting will be open to the public and will include an opportunity for people to provide comments. The Attorney General’s Office will announce more information closer to the event, including an agenda and a link to attend the meeting virtually. This information will also be posted to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force webpage when available. Those with questions about attending the meeting may also contact Annie Forsman-Adams, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People policy analyst, at annie.forsman-adams@atg.wa.gov.

The Washington 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 urgent crisis of Indigenous people who go missing, are the victims of homicide or experience other types of gender-based violence in urban and tribal communities.

Tribes, community members and grassroots activists have done substantial work to identify current challenges regarding data, reporting practices, causes of violence, investigations, prosecutions and direct services that directly impact the rates of violence against tribal and urban Indigenous communities. The task force will build on these efforts to address barriers and provide recommendations to the Legislature to close these gaps.

“The rates of violence against Indigenous women and people are unacceptable,” Ferguson said. “Our work to address this problem must reflect the needs and values of Indigenous communities. This task force is an important step forward in achieving justice for people who have experienced violence. It reaffirms our office’s commitment to racial equity, social justice and strengthening our government-to-government relationship with Washington’s tribal nations.”

"Yakama Nation appreciates the Attorney General's work to convene this task force and further our discussions on how to holistically address the continued crisis of violence against Native women and girls,” Yakama Nation Executive Secretary Athena Sanchey-Yallup said. “It is critically important that this task force development meaningful solutions and policies that will build upon the work and discussions already happening locally and nationally. The development of true solutions to this crisis requires willingness by Washington State and its agencies to center Native voices and we look forward to working with the Attorney General's office to make that happen."

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force

Violence against Indigenous women and within Indigenous communities continues to be underreported and misunderstood throughout Indian Country and the United States. Complex issues around jurisdiction and data collection have created obstacles to understanding the full extent of how many Indigenous women have gone missing, been murdered or been the victim of other types of gender-based crime over generations.

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The task force combines the institutional and cultural knowledge of state agencies, tribal nations and Indigenous communities to center the experiences of victims and to approach the work in a way that is responsive to communities and grounded in Indigenous values.

Twenty-three members have been appointed to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force:

  • Senator Manka Dhingra
  • Senator John Braun
  • Representative Debra Lekanoff
  • Representative Gina Mosbrucker
  • Executive Secretary Athena Sanchey-Yallup, Yakama Nation
  • Councilmember Anna Bean, Puyallup Tribe
  • Councilmember Anita Mitchell, Muckleshoot Tribe
  • Elected Official, Kalispel Tribe (to be announced)
  • Elected Official, Lummi Nation (to be announced)
  • Abigail Echo-Hawk, Seattle Indian Health Board
  • Maureen Rosette, NATIVE Project
  • Laura Platero, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board
  • Vicki Lowe, American Indian Health Commission
  • Patricia Whitefoot, Community Member, Yakama Nation
  • Carolyn DeFord, Community Member, Puyallup Tribe
  • Craig Bill, Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs
  • Patti Gosch, Washington State Patrol
  • Annie Forsman-Adams, Washington State Attorney General’s Office
  • Sam White, Chief of Police, Lower Elwha Klallam Police Department
  • Councilmember Jani Hitchen, Pierce County Council
  • Councilmember Chris Stearns, City of Auburn
  • Aubony Burns, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, King County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers representative (to be announced)

The task force will assess the systemic causes that contribute to disproportionate rates of violence, provide recommendations for addressing barriers and review data collection and reporting protocols. Recognizing that tribal boundaries and communities would have extended far beyond contemporary borders, the task force will also address how the surrounding states and Canada are impacted by the jurisdictional and data gaps.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force meetings will be open to the public and held in collaboration with urban Indigenous organizations, Indigenous communities and tribal nations in Washington and adjacent states.

The task force will convene on December 2 and 3 for the first meeting and public testimony session, co-hosted with the Yakama Nation. More information, agendas and links to attend will be available closer to the meeting date.

The task force will provide initial findings, status updates and other information to the governor and Legislature throughout the process, as well as a progress report in August 2022 and a final report in June 2023.

For more information on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force, contact Annie Forsman-Adams at annie.forsman-adams@atg.wa.gov.

Washington’s Attorney General serves the people and the state of Washington. As the state’s largest law firm, the Attorney General’s Office provides legal representation to every state agency, board, and commission in Washington. Additionally, the Office serves the people directly by enforcing consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection laws. The Office also prosecutes elder abuse, Medicaid fraud, and handles sexually violent predator cases in 38 of Washington’s 39 counties. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

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