MMIWG Zoom Panel
Gila River Indian News
The Arizona State University Indian Legal Program in partnership with the National Congress of American Indians held a Zoom panel discussion on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on Oct. 20.
The panel discussed how House Bill 2570 and the study committee on MMIWG is creating awareness on the issue.
“We wanted to take a broader picture of what was going on with missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” said Arizona Rep. Jennifer Jermaine.
Jermaine along with other state representatives introduced House Bill 2570, which Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law in 2019.
Arizona Senator Sally Ann Gonzales discussed the obstacles for MMIWG cases prior to 2570.
“The resources were not available to the Indian communities at the time,” said Gonzales, who noted the long history of cold cases in tribal areas and the high percentage of Indigenous women who have experienced violence in their lifetime.
She added that a lack of manpower and funding are issues, that hinder most tribal communities’ efforts to search for missing members.
“Not enough dollars are the issue, which goes hand-in-hand with the lack of manpower to search for missing and murdered Indigenous people,” said Gonzales.
A study committee was created from the passing of HB 2570, which highlighted significant statistics on the mortality rate of Indigenous women at the hands of an abuser.
“The purpose of the missing and murdered Indigenous study committee is to address the horrific on-going violence that continue to be committed on Native American women and girls,” said Senator Victoria Steele, Representative for Arizona Legislative District 9.
Steele said the lack of awareness and attention on the issue presents a challenge to garnering support for MMIWG, which rose to 506 victims of violent crimes and 71 cities across the U.S., according to a 2018 Urban Indian Health Institute report.
Jermaine said the 2570 study committee remains active.
“Our big overarching goals were to partner with our Tribal and Urban Indigenous communities to ensure that we were approaching the subject in a culturally competent way that would not cause further harm to the survivors or infringe upon tribal sovereignty.”
Jermaine said at a legislative meeting, a presentation was made highlighting the importance of the committees’ data and the partnership with ASU’s ILP and the Research and Victimization lab for years to come.
She said, “We are really excited to debut this research, but this is only the beginning.”