Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force on Thursday morning.
“Tribal communities have experienced disproportionate violence for too long,” Ferguson said in a news release.
“This announcement is an important step forward in addressing systemic inequities and improving our state’s response.”
With Washington home to 29 federally recognized tribes, the task force’s duties include investigating common denominators in missing and murdered Indigenous women’s cases, highlighting the systemic barriers .
The task force will build a picture of the situation based upon data the state collected through 2018-2019, while reviewing prosecutorial trends, identify resources for victims and increasing training for government officials while working with tribal communities.
Two sets of data compiled by the task force will be presented to Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington Legislation in August 2022 and June 2023.
The task force will consist of 21 members who represent Indigenous women and people.
Annie Forsam-Adams of the Suquamish Tribe and Asa K. Washines from Yakama Nation were announced as task force staff, along with Ellen Austin Hall, a Senior Policy and External Affairs Manager for the Attorney General’s Office.
Appointed members from tribes and two Indigenous women or families will be at the task force’s center, providing first-person experiences and expressing tribal communities’ concerns.
Community organizations such as the Seattle Indian Health Board, NATIVE Project and the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board will serve on the task force. Washington government entities such as the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs are also listed as members.
Appointments to the task force are to be determined. Meetings are set to begin by the end of this year.