Assembly Bill 1854 would create a task force in the California Department of Justice focused on solving cases of missing and murdered Native American Women.
The Issue: California has the largest Native American population in the country, with more than 700,000 people identifying as Native American or Alaskan Native and more than 100 federally-recognized tribes.
That population disportionately faces violence compared to other populations.
More than 80 percent of Native American and Alaskan Native women nationwide experience violence in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say homicide is the third leading cause of death for Native American women between the ages of 10 and 24.
What This Bill Would Do: AB 1854 would create a task force within the California Department of Justice that would give tribes access to law enforcement databases and increase training for officers around the state. It would also appoint a DOJ specialist to build relationships to increase trust between governmental agencies and native communities.
A similar bill died last year.
What Advocates Are Saying: “Every Indian person you talk to is going to be able to name people — the day they went missing, they’re gonna know the story. Plenty of Indian women who have gone out walking, or were hitchhiking — their whereabouts are unknown. And we haven’t seen the state of California and the media and communities care in the same way we see it happen with non-Indian women.” — Virginia Hendrick, incoming executive director of the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health and a member of the Yurok Tribe
A Rare Truce with Trump: This is an instance of California and the Trump administration being on the same page. In November, the president issued an executive order to create a similar task force at the federal level.
In June, Newsom apologized for California’s history of violence and genocide against Native American communities.
What's Next: AB 1854 is eligible for a committee hearing in early February. The federal program must submit a progress report to the Trump administration later this year.
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