Yurok Tribal Leaders Join Governor Newsom in Signing Feather Alert Bill Creating System for Reporting Missing Tribal Peoples | Lost coastal outpost

Today, Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James, Vice Chairman Frankie Myers and Yurok Chief Operating Officer Taralyn Ipina, along with California Governor Gavin Newsom and Assemblyman James C. Ramos, attended the signing of the historic Feather Alert Act (AB1314).

“I would like to thank California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Assembly Member James C. Ramos for creating a mechanism to provide rapid notification when Tribal Peoples are missing or in danger,” said Joseph L. James, chairman of the Yurok tribe. “We supported the Feather Alert Act because it will help reduce California’s disproportionate rate of MMIP cases. The next generation of Indigenous Californians shouldn’t have to live in a world where they have to worry about missing family members or worse. With the emergency notification, we will take action to address the remaining causes of this complex crisis.”

The law authorizes the California Department of Highway Patrol to issue a Feather Alert at the request of law enforcement when an Indigenous person is reported missing in “unexplained or suspicious circumstances.” The CHP can also assist the investigating agency by distributing “a warning notice, an electronic flyer or interchangeable notices,” according to the bill.

The emergency reporting system is particularly needed in California, which has the fifth highest number of missing and murdered Native American (MMIP) cases in the United States.

As recognized by the legislature, most California tribes have little to no access to conventional media, let alone extremely limited resources to publicize missing person cases. Within California, a large majority of cases occur in Northern California.

In December 2021, the Yurok Tribal Council declared a MMIP state of emergency. The statement accelerated the expansion of the tribe’s MMIP program, which was created to address the many facets of the crisis. Administered by the Yurok Tribal Court, the program hired a team of academic researchers and other subject matter experts to study the issue and produce three in-depth reports that focused on various aspects of the MMIP crisis.

This year the program published its third and final report. The detailed document provides a customizable roadmap that tribes can use to respond to new and existing MMIP cases. The tribal court also established the office of the tribal attorney general to assist in investigations and prosecutions. A political analyst has been brought on board to address long-standing systemic barriers preventing tribes from fully addressing the crisis.

The tribe is also working with a diverse group of California tribal leaders, as well as state and federal legislators, to bring an end to the MMIP epidemic.

On July 12, 2022, Yurok Chairman James called a tribal meeting to lay the groundwork for a unified response to the MMIP crisis in the state. More than two dozen tribal leaders representing tribes throughout California joined the strategic discussion, which included a call to action.

On Tuesday, October 4th, the Yurok tribe will host the first-ever national policy summit on MMIP. The 1st Annual Northern California Tribal Summit on MMIP will bring together tribal leaders, law enforcement officials and MMIP survivors, as well as state and federal legislators, academic researchers and victim advocates to find solutions to end the crisis.

Comments are closed.