Kansas House approves bill to address missing indigenous people

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The House of Representatives chamber of the Kansas Statehouse is pictured July 23, 2014 in Topeka.

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers are looking to encourage training for law enforcement agencies to help address the high rates of murdered and missing indigenous people.

The House approved a bill unanimously Wednesday that calls for closer collaboration between Native American tribes, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and other agencies in an effort to raise awareness about the problem. The bill goes next to the Senate.

The Kansas City Star reports that supporters hope that educating state agencies more thoroughly will help reduce the level of crime in indigenous communities.

“As Native American women, we watch other cultures celebrate and honor their women, and we just want to bring ours home,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ponka-We Victors, a Wichita Democrat and the only Native American woman in the Legislature.

Indigenous people are murdered and go missing at higher rates than any other racial identity, according to an Urban Indian Health Institute study. Officials say the data doesn’t reflect the problem’s scope.

In 2016, National Crime Information Center reported 5,712 indigenous women went missing, but only 116 cases were reported to the U.S. Department of Justice’s missing persons database. These discrepancies in data are common in reports of crime committed against Native American individuals nationwide.


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