fbpx
facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1
 
Tribal leaders, local law enforcement, and lawmakers gathered in Northern California on Thursday to learn about Feather Alert, a statewide alert system for missing Native Americans.

Feather Alert is designed to help law enforcement quickly notify the public of missing Native Americans and enlist their help. The California Highway Patrol issues alerts to state residents via mobile phone alerts, social media, news media and displays them on highway reader boards — similar to the AMBER alert system that notifies the public when a minor has been abducted. 

The California Statewide Feather Alert Program was introduced in January in Assembly Bill 1314, authored by the state’s first and only Native American Assembly member, James C. Ramos (D-San Bernardino). Thursday's event was held in Redwood Valley, Calif., and was the third in a series of events to acclimate local and tribal law enforcement to the alert system and address any questions or concerns they may have. 

The alert system is the latest in California’s efforts to improve the state’s response to the Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP) crisis. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 
 

Native American communities experience high rates of assaults, abductions, and murder. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Native women living on reservations are murdered at a rate ten times higher than the national average. Layered jurisdiction, lack of collaboration between law enforcement bodies, and systemic apathy have led to thousands of unsolved cases in Indian Country. While there is no comprehensive data on MMIP, the Bureau of Indian Affairs estimates there are 4,200 unsolved MMIP cases. 

California, which has 100 sovereign nations and the largest Native American population in the nation, is among the states with the highest number of MMIPs. A report by the Sovereign Bodies Institute indicated only nine percent of murders of Indigenous women in California have ever been solved. 

In April, the Round Valley Indian Tribes, who participated in Thursday's Feather Alert event, declared a State of Emergency after two of their members were found murdered. The Yurok Tribe issued a similar declaration last year.

“It gets too easy to cite these staggering statistics,” Ramos said in a statement. “The Feather Alert will aid law enforcement and families in getting the word out quickly when a Native individual is missing or endangered by alerting the public in a broad and effective manner.”

 The MMIP crisis is exacerbated by systemic apathy and a jurisdictional web of federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement. Lawmakers hope the Feather Alert system will bridge the gaps in communication between law enforcement bodies — and save lives. 

“Mendocino County has long faced issues of communication for numerous reasons, including the rural and geographically challenging areas our communities are in,” 

Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall “Effective communications and strong partnerships with our communities will help us move forward with positive outcomes in our investigations. Providing information to the public in a timely manner strengthens partnerships with our communities and allows all of us to work together with a goal of public safety. The Feather Alert System will begin a process which helps bridge these gaps we have seen in the past.”

Feather Alert systems were enacted in Washington State and Colorado earlier this year. 

Tell Us What You Think


More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (April 21 2024): D.C. Briefs
Q+A: Journalist Connie Walker Reflects on Season 3 of 'Stolen' Podcast Investigating Navajo Nation MMIP Cases
Native Bidaské with Sarah Eagle Heart (Oglála Lakota) on the Indigenous Fashion Collective
Twelve Cherokee Nation Cyclists, 950 Miles: The 40th Annual Remember the Removal Bike Ride
Leona Carlyle-Kakar (Ak-Chin), Instrumental in Securing the 1st Water Rights Settlement in Indian Country, Walks On

Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

 
About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].