Dozens of Native Americans rallied at the state capitol Monday, pushing for legislation to reduce the number of missing and murdered indigenous woman.
Three bills working their way through the legislature would set up a liaison between OSBI and tribal investigators while also setting up a so called “Red Alert” when native people go missing. It would be similar to the Amber and Silver Alerts already in place. Backers say these bills will save lives and bring justice to victims’ families.
Kay Mopope wants justice for her mother, who was found dead in a field in Shawnee in 1978.
“These two boys were walking through a field and they found her. She had no clothes on. And she had a wound in her chest and a wound in her head and when the medical examiner, he declared her death as she died of natural causes.”
Mopope’s story is not an uncommon one in native communities. Oklahoma has the 10th highest rate of missing and murdered indigenous women in the country, according to a report by the Urban Indian Health Institute. So Native Americans are lobbying state lawmakers to pass bills that would reduce cases.
“It’s important that we not forget those people that have been missing and murdered and not only that we want to bring awareness to those type of things that happened,” said Governor Reggie Wassana Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.
House Bill 3345, named Ida’s bill for Ida Beard, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes who disappeared in Shawnee five years ago, would create a liaison to foster cooperation between state, federal and tribal authorities.
“There’s cold cases on the desks of district attorneys that can’t be touched because it’s more of a federal issue. This bill would assign a liaison to help navigate those jurisdictional boundaries and ensure that families are going through the proper channels of law enforcement,” said Representative Mickey Dollens (D) Oklahoma City.
Mopope said she’s rallying at the capitol so other families don’t have to know the pain she knows.
“It hits everybody,” Mopope said. “Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But eventually”
Ida’s bill is expected to be heard in a house committee next week.