Seattle Councilwoman Debora Juarez:  ‘Obvious & Urgent Need’ To Close Gap on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Data Collection

Seattle Councilperson Deborah Juarez

Published June 10, 2019

Mayor, Chief herald UIHI Report findings as ‘stark’, ‘staggering’

SEATTLE  Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle), Chair of the Council’s Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities Committee, convened today’s briefing on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG) report today, which pointed to the ‘obvious and urgent need’ to close the gap on data collection.Abigail Echo-Hawk, the Director of the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) and a nationally-recognized leader in the fight against the MMIWG crisis, presented the findings.

“I’m proud to have the nationally-recognized leader in this fight with us to build on legislation my colleagues approved last year directing the City to review and improve its methodology for collecting data regarding American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said Juarez.

Law enforcement data collection on MMIWG cases in urban America ranges from incomplete to non-existent, a concerning fact given 71 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives live in urban areas.

Seattle tops the list of more than seventy cities surveyed as a part of the UIHI report.

“There is an epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women here in the Puget Sound region and across our entire country,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We must continue to lift up these communities and their calls for justice. To the families who have endured tragedy and heartbreak: We are standing with you – and we will never stop. Thank you to Councilmember Juarez for continuing to shine a light on this shameful epidemic and calling for change to protect the safety of Indigenous women and their communities.”

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is the highest public safety agency in the State of Washington and therefore has access to a number of intended to protect individual rights. Our State’s Legislature passed 2SHB 1713, to create a mechanism for building a government-to-government partnership between WSP and Sovereign Tribal Nations.

“We know that enhanced data collection is critical to identifying many of the complicating factors contributing to the death and disappearance of this population,” said Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. “We need to embark on this immediately to help protect the legacy of indigenous women in this country.”

“It is my commitment as Chair of the committee to work with UIHI to assess these significant gaps and our City plays a role,” Juarez concluded. “This MMIWG briefing is a necessary first step in educating ourselves of the history, variables, and development of the MMIWG crisis.”

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