Tribal leaders, advocates, California state lawmakers, and law enforcement reviewed the Feather Alert on Wednesday, one year after its implementation in California.
The alert system is used to notify the public and law enforcement about missing Native American people, especially women and girls.
Tribal leaders gathered for a press conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento before a hearing on the alert system.
Joe James, chairman of the Yurok Tribe, says a Feather Alert was issued just last week for one of his tribal members.
“Little mixed emotion when I think about that, but I’m glad there’s a resource and a tool that’s there … murdered and missing Indigenous women have been going on for decades. Back to our boarding schools, back to when we were abducted, to remove our identity, to remove us as people. It’s an honor here to stand here as a tribal chairman, as a tribal leader, to work with my colleagues behind me, to knowing the work that we’ve done. We’ve got some ways yet to go, but this can’t be done without the legislator, the local law enforcement, our local sheriffs at home, our local community, our tribal leaders come together as a whole.”
Josefina Frank is chairwoman of the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria.
“And it’s important that everyone here in this room and outside of this room understand that our people are important. And it’s important that we’re all here to discuss all of this and to work together and to build those relationships and creating those Memorandum of Understandings with all of the tribes, whether that be in Northern California where we’re located, in Southern California, we all should be working together. I’m extremely thankful for the Feather Alert because it has helped in many cases, but the reality of it is also there’s a lot of data that’s not provided.”
Vice Chairwoman Raquel Williams of the Wilton Rancheria reflected on progress made in one year with the Feather Alert, but also says there’s much more work to do.
“Incredible progress has been made in such a short amount of time, and we’ve brought not only awareness, but an actual real action to help put an end to this crisis, but we can’t stop now. We must continue to train tribal members, the general public, and all levels of law enforcement on how to properly utilize this important tool so that alerts may be issued in a more timely manner. And we must increase funding and wrap around services. When recognizing that these feather alerts, they’re still a much needed healing and care for the victims and their families. We must continue to work together to ensure that future generations will not have to live in the same fear that we share today.”
State Rep. James Ramos (Serrano/Cahuilla/D-CA), who authored legislation creating the notification system, held the hearing after the press conference where discussions focused on successes, challenges and needs.
An area Rep. Ramos noted improvement on is making tribes and the general public aware of the Feather Alert.
He also says improvements are needed in bridging communication gaps among various law enforcement agencies and tribes.
U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (Yup’ik/D-AK) has announced her bid to run for re-election.
Rhonda McBride from our flagship station KNBA reports.
In 2022, Rep. Peltola made history when she won a special election to finish out the late U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK)’s term.
Rep. Peltola became the first Alaska Native to win a seat in Congress and was later elected to her first full term.
Last January, she took the oath of office beside her husband, Gene Peltola, Jr, who died eight months later in a plane crash.
Rep. Peltola returned to work a month later, still grieving, but said she was ready to carry on.
In a statement, Rep. Peltola said she will campaign as a bipartisan candidate and wants to build upon the legacy of two Alaskan Senators – the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), as well as Rep. Young.
Rep. Peltola faces two Republican challengers: Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom (R-AK) and Nick Begich III, whom she defeated in her last race for the House.
Begich is the grandson of the late U.S. Rep. Nick Begich (D-AK).