A bill to create a system to notify the public when an Indigenous person goes missing was approved Tuesday by California state lawmakers.
The “Feather Alert” (AB 1314) bill was introduced by Native State Rep. James Ramos (D-CA).
The bill is intended to help get the word out as fast as possible when an individual is missing or endangered.
Creating an alert system was a recommendation from tribal leaders. The bill creates the Endangered Missing Advisory (EMA) when a Native American is at risk.
Currently, law enforcement agencies use the EMA system to investigate when a child or at-risk person goes missing.
The system asks for immediate information from the public to help in a swift recovery.
Here’s Rep. Ramos talking about the bill this summer at the state capitol in Sacramento.
“The rates of murdered and missing people in Native American communities is a shameful state and national tragedy that does not receive the scrutiny and attention it deserves. We are excited about this alert system, but even more excited about the growing momentum the momentum to tackle this issue not only from Indian Country by non-Native people, the California Highway Patrol, as well as the state legislature.”
California has the greatest population of Native Americans in the nation. And Rep. Ramos says the state also has the highest rates of reported cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people pointing to a number of studies.
The bill to create the alert system is expected to head to the governor’s desk this week.
Navajo Nation officials recently held a public forum to address the continued impacts of radiation exposure on tribal lands in the Southwest.
As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, Congress recently extended a federal compensation program for people known as downwinders.
Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation updated attendees on the status of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).
President Joe Biden signed a two-year extension of the law this summer just before it was set to expire.
Officials say it’ll allow more time for lawmakers to craft a long-term version of the law designed to last until 2040.
Tribal officials want the updated program to cover more diseases, and a broader array of workers and residents along with raising the amount of compensation.
At the forum, leaders also heard from tribal members who described the harmful impacts of radiation exposure on themselves, their families, and communities.
For more than three decades, RECA has awarded one-time payments to people who lived downwind of the Nevada Test Site or worked in the uranium industry from 1942 to 1971.
Tribal leaders and others say the legacy of uranium mining on tribal lands has been devastating as many downwinders have developed cancers and other debilitating health problems.
The U.S. government conducted nearly 200 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests between the end of World War II and the early 1960s.
Tens of thousands of workers, including many tribal members, mined and processed uranium for the program and were unknowingly exposed to large amounts of radiation.
The Institute of American Indian Arts is hosting a celebration of New Mexico’s Indigenous comedians on September 16 in Santa Fe.
It’s being held as the CloudTop Comedy Festival takes place during the week.
CloudTop is a nonprofit organization promoting world-class and up-and-coming comics.
It provides professional support, workshops, networking, and the annual festival.
Four Indigenous comedians will be taking part in the event.
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