Assembly renews resolution addressing high rates of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls

(Matt Leseman)
Published: Jan. 3, 2021 at 11:56 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly renewed a resolution acknowledging the high rates of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in the city and state at their last meeting in December, and now, members are looking at the next steps to continue addressing the issue.

The Assembly was first briefed on the high rates of MMIWG in Alaska at a 2019 Public Safety Committee meeting.

“One of the first reports put out had 52 cases in Alaska, which was the fourth-highest state for the sheer number of cases, so not per population,” said Charlene Apok, Director of Justice Gender & Healing at Native Movement, one of the advocacy groups working with the Assembly.

That report, from the Urban Indian Health Institute, also put Anchorage as the third-highest city in the US for MMIWG cases, which led to the assembly passing its first resolution on the topic.

“As local officials, it’s important not just to recognize this issue, but to commit to working with the group supporting these efforts,” said Suzanne LaFrance, one of the sponsors of the original resolution.

Since then, the municipality has worked to connect groups with law enforcement to answer questions and share data. Apok said that process has been helpful, but she’s also looking for new ways to continue to address the issue.

“We’re making forward progress on things like cultural training, and data and raising awareness… she said. “But I think a really huge opportunity still is working with the tribal governments.”

And the municipality could soon take a step towards doing that. At the same meeting where the resolution was passed, Assembly members Christopher Constant, Forrest Dunbar, and Kameron Perez-Verdia introduced an ordinance that seeks to establish government-to-government relations between the municipality and the Native Village of Eklutna. Additionally, the Assembly’s public safety committee is set to hear from the Department of Justice on Jan. 6 to discuss its Murdered and Missing Indigenous People project.

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