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A new unit dedicated to solving Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) cases is coming to the state of Washington thanks to a newly signed house bill.
On Thursday, April 21, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1177, establishing an MMIP cold case investigative unit in the state’s attorney general’s office. The unit will provide additional assistance and resources to law enforcement agencies in solving cold cases involving missing and murdered indigenous women and people.

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The bill was spearheaded by Rep. Debra Lekanoff (D-40th District) — an enrolled member of the Tlingit tribe and the only Native woman to serve in the legislature — and was in response to a recommendation from a 2022 interim report by the Washington State MMIP task force. According to the same report, there are 113 MMIP cold cases in the state.

“It is our duty to support, protect, and uplift every community in our state. But, we can, and we must do better to advocate for the safety of Indigenous people in Washington,” Lekanoff said in a statement when the bill passed unanimously in Feb. “This bill is about valuing the lives of Indigenous women. It’s about making sure their lives matter. It’s about making sure my life matters.”

While data on MMIP remains limited, according to the 2020 National Crime Information Center Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics, there were 9,560 cases involving MMIP in the system.




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