Native Families Want To Know, MR. AG, What’s The Holdup?
Every holiday season it's the same routine for scores of Native families across the country and here in the Yakima Valley. Parents and families who gathered to share, catch up, and reconnect are compelled to spend part of their time asking where is their missing loved one, what happened to them, why haven't they heard anything in so long?
What's The Hold-Up Mr. Attorney General?
4th District U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-CA) recently sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting an update on the implementation of Savanna’s Act, legislation passed last year to address the high number of missing or murdered Native American women. The bill requires the Department of Justice to implement additional law enforcement protocols for investigating such cases and both Congressional Representatives want an update,
The Yakima Herald-Republic (YHR) has spent a lot of ink covering the efforts to draw more attention and effort to solving these drawn-out and heartbreaking investigations.
Savanna's Act Needed Action
Congressman Newhouse, “Savanna’s Act was signed into law over a year ago and requires the Department of Justice to update Congress on how the reforms and guidelines are being implemented to better protect native women and communities. I am deeply disappointed this statutory deadline has not been met, given the dire state of the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women in Central Washington and across the country....we worked hard with our tribal partners and local advocates to get Savanna’s Act signed into law, and now we urge Attorney General Garland to act swiftly to execute these bipartisan policies in order to deliver justice to the families and loved ones of these women.”
Bringing Key Parties Together
Earlier in the process...Rep. Newhouse arranged meetings between House leadership and two Yakama Nation leaders, then-Chairman JoDe Goudy and Councilwoman Lottie Samm, who traveled to Washington, D.C., to express the impact the MMIW crisis was having on local communities.
Following the announcement of the Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, or Operation Lady Justice, Rep. Newhouse invited Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney to Central Washington to hear firsthand from tribal leaders.