Yurok Tribe holds Cultural Demonstration for MMIP Day of Action

Yurok Chairman Joseph James (right) speaking at a podium next to three tribal young women in traditional regalia (left) in front of the World Peace Rose Garden in Sacramento.
Yurok Chairman Joseph James (right) speaking at the podium next to three young women in traditional regalia (left) in front of the World Peace Rose Garden in Sacramento | Photo courtesy of The Yurok Tribe

The Yurok Tribe is raising the alarm about violence directed at indigenous peoples.

Yurok Chairman Joseph James and other members joined tribal leaders from across California for the demonstration yesterday at the state capitol. The event recognized Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Day. Speakers say they’re seeking legislative solutions.

“We are here today to stand in support,” Joseph James said, in his opening speech. “We are here today to bring awareness. Most importantly here, today is a day of action. For all of us. All of us throughout California. All of us throughout the United States.”

The tribal leaders are calling for a historic investment of $200 million dollars towards building programs that protect woman and girls, and meet the needs of tribal communities.

Press Release from the Yurok Tribe:

Yesterday, hundreds of tribal leaders, tribal organizations and MMIP survivors from across the state participated in the Yurok Tribe-sponsored event to support tribally led solutions that address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous people. The solutions include two important pieces of legislation that target the driving forces behind the crisis and a regional funding request for Northern, Central and Southern California tribes, which have long been excluded from many state and federal programs.

“California tribes have united to combat the MMIP crisis, which has weighed heavy on the hearts of every Native person in the state for far too long. The time for action is now,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “We are asking the state legislature to support a series of solutions that will help us prevent MMIP cases and keep our children safe.”

“The devastating issue of MMIP has caused untold tragedy that often becomes long lingering ripples of grief and further tragedy. We can reduce the number of cases through greater collaboration by law enforcement, tribal communities, mental health and other service providers to ensure that victims and their loved ones receive the support and attention they need to overcome these acts of violence. This issue remains a priority for me and others in the Native American Legislative Caucus; we want California at the forefront in confronting this issue,” added Assemblymember James C. Ramos.

Most, if not all California tribes are contending with MMIP crises. Tribal leaders across the state are calling for an historic investment of $200 million to build programs and services that prevent girls, women and people from becoming missing or murdered and meet pressing needs in tribal communities. The proposal will bolster tribally led response plans, law enforcement and public health programs in Northern, Central and Southern California. It also calls for legislation to change broken laws and policies.

Building on the recent passage of the Feather Alert and Department of Justice Law Enforcement Assistance bills, the first piece of legislation is AB 44 (Tribal Public Safety). Introduced by California Assembly Member James C. Ramos, the bill seeks to grant tribal police state peace officer status. The bill will give qualified tribal police officers parity with state law. It will also provide tribal law enforcement and tribal courts access to the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS). The computer network contains FBI and DMV-administered databases, criminal histories and many other essential records. The bill will benefit all California residents by increasing the number of highly trained peace officers available to protect and serve communities.

The second bill, also introduced by Assembly Member Ramos, AB 273 (Protecting and Locating Foster Children Missing from Care) will require counties and courts to notify Tribes, key family members and attorneys when a child is missing from foster care. It will also require a judicial hearing when a child or non-minor dependent in foster care is missing, to ensure the child is located and returned to a safe and appropriate environment. Native children in the foster care system are disproportionately more at risk of becoming MMIP victims.

For more information, here is a link to the MMIP Day of Action news briefing – https://www.facebook.com/TheYurokTribe/videos/943001683749317

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