Meeting set for Toppenish to address missing Native women

No one knows exactly how many Native girls and women have gone missing on or near Yakama reservation.

Associated Press

YAKIMA — A second Yakima County meeting on missing Native women in Washington has been announced for early 2019.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reported the event will take place Jan. 14 at Legends Casino in Toppenish, led by Craig Bill, director of the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs, and Washington State Patrol Capt. Monica Alexander. It will involve presentations and an open forum.

Bill and Alexander have held several similar meetings around the state. The first one in Yakima County took place Oct. 29 at the Yakima Convention Center in Yakima. Organizers estimated nearly 300 people attended.

The meetings are a result of Washington House Bill 2951, which requires the State Patrol to work with the Office of Indian Affairs and tribal leaders to determine how to increase reporting and investigation of missing Native American women.

The legislation also requires the state to collect data, for the first time, on the numbers of missing Native women.

No one knows exactly how many Native girls and women have gone missing on or near the 1.3-million-acre Yakama reservation. In 2009, the FBI concluded a two-year probe into the deaths of 16 women on the reservation from 1980 to 1993. An FBI spokesman said there may be as many as 32 unsolved cases on the reservation involving disappearances and deaths.

Alexander is compiling information and must report to the Legislature by June 1. The legislation says it must include data and analysis on the number of missing Native American women in the state, identification of barriers in providing state resources to address the issue, and recommendations to improve safety and reporting.

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