SALEM, Ore. -- Legislation moving through the Oregon Capitol is focused on helping indigenous women who are victims of crime. Across the country, there were 5,712 cases of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls in 2016 according to the National Crime Information Center. Only 116 of those cases were logged into the Department of Justice database. Those statistics and others are outlined in a report by the Urban Indian Health Institute Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls. That same report noted that murder is the third leading cause of death among indigenous women.
That's why many Oregon legislators are supporting legislation aimed at increasing resources towards investigating cases of missing and murdered indigenous women. The bill passed the Oregon House of Representatives unanimously Wednesday.
“What we know and understand as indigenous people in this state is that if a criminal act happens on tribal lands, it is very likely that nothing will happen,” said the bill’s chief sponsor Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland). “We need to ensure that criminal investigations and the protections afforded off of tribal lands extend to those on tribal lands. This legislation is an important first step in ensuring that justice is available to everyone in our state no matter who they are or where they live.” House Bill 2625 directs the Oregon State Police to study how to increase criminal justice and investigative resources toward past and future cases of missing and murdered indigenous women.
Signed on as sponsors are a bipartisan group of 40 legislators.
The legislation seeks to build an accurate picture of missing and murdered indigenous women in Oregon through research and data collection. Further, it serves as a first step to improving relationships between tribal communities and law enforcement.
The legislation now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration.
UIHI has recorded 6 cases in Portland - 4 missing and 2 unkown. It's one of 71 cities included it the study. It was the only city in Oregon that was specifically studied.