Feather Alert Presentation

May 31, 2024 | by: Anu Watts
Feather Alert Presentation

On May 15th CCVAP was invited to Morongo TANF to lead a presentation on the Feather Alert and discuss the ongoing Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) epidemic. CA Assembly Bill 1314 - The Feather Alert establishes the creation of an emergency alert system for Native American/Alaska Native persons living in California who have gone missing under suspicious and/or unexplained circumstances.

Current and historic statistics of the rates of victimization of Native American and Alaska Natives were shared and discussed to help explain the need for enacting a feather alert. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, murder rates are 10x higher than the national average for women living on reservations and also the 3rd highest cause of death for Native women. Statistics show us that approximately 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native missing persons have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) throughout the U.S. and approximately 2,700 cases of Murder and Nonnegligent Homicide Offenses have been reported to the Federal Government’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. In total, BIA estimates there are approximately 4,200 missing and murdered cases that have gone unsolved. (Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Crisis. Bureau of Indian Affairs).

Next, we asked the participants of the presentation what they believed were the reasons behind the increased victimization of Native Americans and Alaska Natives and received answers such as: lack of access to basic resources, poverty, and substance abuse. We further explored these topics as direct results of generational and historic trauma inflicted on Native communities. Following the discussion on factors that lead to victimization, we discussed various legislation in the recent past that had the goal to alleviate the MMIP epidemic by addressing victimization that leads to it. Operation Lady Justice (Executive Order 13898), Savanna’s Act (Public Law No. 116-165), and the Not Invisible Act were highlighted as well as their contributions (and missed opportunities) to the reporting, identifying, and prevention of MMIP.

As we dove into the full legislative definition of the Feather Alert, Samantha Thornsberry (Director of CCVAP) asked the audience to take mental note of all the ways in which the language used in this bill could be misinterpreted, misconstrued, or overlooked entirely. The audience voiced their opinions on the possible problems that might be faced with the language of the bill and had many questions about the various amendments made to the bill.

As we concluded the presentation, we asked participants to anonymously share any thoughts or questions they may have. The audience comprised mainly of graduating high school seniors and their families and we received some incredibly thought-provoking questions like:

“Is it true that misidentification happens in MMIP reporting?”

“How can we educate more non-Natives on the matter?”

“Was the 1863 bill number intentional?”

“How can we (youth) continue to raise awareness and help fix the issues?”

CCVAP is thankful for the opportunity to connect with community members at Morongo TANF and is especially impressed (and hopeful) with the levels of engagement from the youth attendees. May is MMIP Awareness month in California and we feel fortunate to be able to have these compelling conversations about awareness and prevention within the community.

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This website was produced by the Cahuilla Consortium under grant award #2019-VO-GX-0010, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.