Earth Feather Sovereign (left) of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, joins others in playing drums and signing in the Capitol Rotunda after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law April 24 in Olympia. The bill creates liaison positions within the Washington State Patrol, and requires the agency to develop best practices in hopes of reducing disproportionate rates of violence faced by Native American and indigenous women, and also the frequency with which perpetrators of the crimes avoid justice. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Earth Feather Sovereign (left) of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, joins others in playing drums and signing in the Capitol Rotunda after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law April 24 in Olympia. The bill creates liaison positions within the Washington State Patrol, and requires the agency to develop best practices in hopes of reducing disproportionate rates of violence faced by Native American and indigenous women, and also the frequency with which perpetrators of the crimes avoid justice. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Tribal roles to focus on missing, murdered indigenous people

One position will be located in Olympia. The second will serve in Eastern Washington.

By Tammy Ayer / Yakima Herald-Republic

State law enforcement officials are hiring two people with significant experience in tribal or urban Native communities for new roles created by legislation centered on the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous people.

Signed into law earlier this year, House Bill 1713 establishes two liaison positions within the Washington State Patrol to work with family members when missing persons reports are filed. According to the job description posted in late September, one position will be located in Olympia, while the location of the other position serving Eastern Washington will be determined by the successful applicant.

The application period closes late Wednesday.

“The Washington State Patrol is looking to hire two dynamic professionals who have established, positive working relationships with tribal governments and possess an expert knowledge of native communities,” the job description says. “Successful incumbents will work to build relationships, increase trust and create partnerships between law enforcement/government agencies and Native communities.”

The liaisons will help increase trust between governmental organizations and Native communities and break the silence involved when an indigenous person goes missing, said Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, the bill’s main sponsor.

Her bill establishes guidelines for how Washington law enforcement agencies handle reports of missing Native people on and off reservations.

“When someone becomes missing, all too often there hasn’t been a process to get help for families,” she said after the bill passed the Senate. “Tribal members have reached out to tribal police, city and county officials, and the State Patrol, but no one could tell them what could be done.

“The tribal liaisons will be there to help, and with a protocol in place, investigations can follow through to the completion of the case.”

Dozens of women have vanished in and around the Yakama reservation. Sometimes, they just disappear. Sometimes, they’re found dead months or years latter. Rarely is anyone held to account for the death.

Developing best practices protocol for law enforcement response to missing person’s reports for indigenous women and other indigenous persons is among the primary responsibilities of the tribal liaisons.

Other responsibilities include providing strategic guidance on consideration and inclusion of tribal issues in development of agency plans, programs and policies and leading efforts to expand overall engagement and partnership with tribes.

Among the qualifications are an understanding of Native American culture, Indian treaties, federal Indian policy and history, federal laws and programs affecting tribes, Indian case law and tribal government structures and issues.

Experience facilitating issues arising from cultural differences is key. Ideal candidates will have experience working with local, tribal, state and/or federal government entities and the ability to write, read and interpret legislation and laws.

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