Northlanders react to Washington state’s latest plan to help missing Indigenous people

Northlanders react to Washington state's latest plan to help missing Indigenous people
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 6:47 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - An amber alert system for missing Indigenous people, that’s the idea behind a new bill lawmakers in Washington state passed last week.

Some members of the Indigenous community in the Northland would like to see something similar in our region.

In the Indigenous community, having a family member go missing is far more common than many might realize.

“Every Indigenous person knows somebody, whether it is a close family member, a friend, or somebody you know like a cousin that’s gone missing,” said Khayman Goodsky, Indigenous First’s Gift Shop Co-coordinator.

According to a Minnesota task force study, between 27-54 Indigenous women and girls were missing in a given month between 2012 and 2022.

“If we had more resources I think we’d be able to find these people a lot faster. We’d be able to look out for each other,” said Goodsky.

In Washington state, lawmakers are providing those resources, they’re creating a statewide alert system for missing Indigenous people.

Goodsky would like to see a similar alert system put in place in our area, or even nationally.

“It’s really important that our community is safe and that we know we’re safe in Duluth and Minnesota,” said Goodsky.

The alert system in Washington will include a hotline where members of the public can report a missing Indigenous person, that information is sent out state-wide, and even put on billboards.

At AICHO in Duluth, which houses the Indigenous First gift shop, there may not be a billboard, but they’ve created a rooftop mural to raise awareness for several causes including missing and murdered indigenous people.

“We decided on a mural, it’s right in your face, and it brings awareness. We are seen,” said Goodsky.

Deanna Reder advocates for Indigenous people, she thinks an alert system will also put a spotlight on how big the problem is.

“There’s just not enough attention brought to it,” said Deanna Reder, legal advocate for Dabinoo’Igan.

Reder said she’s not sure if the problem is getting worse, but it’s certainly not getting better.

“The sad reality is that this is happening every day. It’s happening every second, every hour that someone is going missing,” said Reder.

We reached out to Senator Tina Smith for comment, and received the following statement:

“On some reservations, Native women are murdered at a rate of 10 times the national average. These statistics are horrific and reflect immense trauma for Native families. I’m encouraged by the news that Washington state has created a statewide alert system for missing Indigenous people, which is an important step in addressing this crisis at the state level. I am committed to doing whatever I can at the national level to help protect Native people in Minnesota and across this country and seek justice for Native survivors.”

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