February 26, 2024

IE COMMUNITY NEWS

El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

Lawmakers and Tribes: One Year Review of Feather Alert: Positive Outcomes but Needs Tweaks

2 min read

Assemblymember James C. Ramos proudly represents the 45th Assembly district which includes the Cities of Fontana, Highland, Mentone, Redlands, Rialto and San Bernardino. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state’s legislature. Ramos chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #6 on Public Safety.

Lawmakers and tribal and law enforcement users of the year-old Feather Alert, found use of the notification system delivered positive results in locating Native American persons who have gone missing but some wrinkles need to be addressed for a more effective use of the program.

The assessment came at a hearing of the Assembly Select Committee on Native American Affairs.

Assemblymember James C. Ramos who authored legislation creating the notification system said, “This alert is a great tool for Native Americans trying to bring attention to loved ones who are missing and possibly at great risk of physical or even fatal harm. New programs should be assessed to ensure that they are working effectively.”

He added, “One thing we do know about the Feather Alert is that when there is no alert, there is a much greater chance that we’ll be grieving and not celebrating.”

Ramos said the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) has been an issue since his election in 2018 when he became the first California Native American elected to the state legislature. “California has the greatest number of Native Americans within its borders than any other state, but we’re also in top five in the nation with the highest number of unsolved missing and murdered cases for Native people, especially for women and girls. They are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and murder. One study by the Sovereign Bodies Institute reports 18 new cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people each year in California.”

Ramos noted that one challenge is making tribes and the general public aware of the Feather Alert and another is bridging communication gaps among various law enforcement agencies and the tribes. “Over the past year, I’ve conducted summits with tribes, the CHP, and local law enforcement to foster awareness and understanding of the program, but also to foster better communication among Indian Country and city police departments, sheriffs, and the California Highway Patrol,” he stated. Ramos said he has held summits in the Counties of Fresno, San Bernardino, Mendocino and Los Angeles and added that he hopes to hold more summits.

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