Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
A photograph of Ashlynne Mike is decorated by condolences handwritten and made into a poster at the Farmington Civic Center in Farmington.
Published April 14, 2018
WINDOW ROCK—President Donald Trump signed into law the bipartisan Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act today on April 13, 2018.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez applaud Senator John McCain, Senator Tom Udall, Congressman Andy Biggs and many others for introducing and passing the bill to provide protection for Native American children.
“Our children are sacred and we pray to never have a situation like Ashlynn Mike ever again. But in case we do, we have the tools and resources to implement an AMBER Alert ourselves, rather than waiting for others to do it for us,” President Begaye said. “This is a much-needed law in Indian Country because it provides other tribes the opportunity to attain funding so they can take matters into their own hands.”
After the tragic death of Ashlynne Mike, President Begaye issued a directive for Navajo Nation public safety officials to undergo the necessary training and secure required documentation to purchase the software. This included a signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to allow Navajo public safety officials access to the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
Last winter, President Begaye and Vice President Nez completed this process by signing a contract to purchase a mass notification software to implement an alert system for a number of emergencies, including AMBER Alert.
“We are proud to be one of the first, if not the first, tribal nations in the country to have the capability to issue our own AMBER Alert,” Vice President Nez said. “The new bill passed by the federal government will provide these necessary tools for many Native American tribes across the country to protect their children.”
The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) currently operates a pilot program that offers AMBER Alert training services to Native American tribes, but this act makes the initiative permanent, providing a more sustainable program. The bill also requires USDOJ to perform a needs assessment of AMBER Alert capabilities on tribal nations.
“I am gratified the president has signed into law our bipartisan Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act,” said Senator McCain. “This legislation addresses serious gaps in current law that have prevented tribes from quickly issuing AMBER Alerts and helping children like Ashlynne escape tragedy. We must ensure tribes have the resources they need to improve public safety, and this bill will expand and expedite child abduction alerts so we can help victims and save lives.”