4 Investigates: Rep. Haaland tackling missing Native women crisis | KOB 4
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4 Investigates: Rep. Haaland tackling missing Native women crisis

Colton Shone
January 18, 2019 07:37 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Congresswoman Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, is taking a closer look at why too many Native American women have gone missing.

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Haaland said ending the crisis is one of her top priorities.

“It's devastating. It's devastating because I have a daughter and every time that happens I just imagine my daughter being in that place and me getting that phone call," the congresswoman said.

Haaland believes federal lawmakers are waking up to the issue.

KOB 4 reported how the problem is affecting Native communities in New Mexico.

Ariel Begay was last seen alive on the Navajo Nation in July 2017. Her remains were found a few months later.

Tribal advocates said many cases go unsolved because of the remoteness of the reservation and a lack of investigative resources.

In 2018, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill known as Savanna's Act. It’s named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was murdered. Her body was eventually found wrapped in plastic in a river in North Dakota.

The bill would make it easier for tribes to report missing indigenous people to a federal database and create guidelines for investigating those cases.

However, the bill did not pass in the House.

Haaland believes the bill now has the votes to pass, under Democratic leadership.

"Now that we're in the majority, I'm confident that we'll be able to get a bill passed in the house,” she said.

Haaland also wants to introduce her own legislation to address investigative gaps.

"We need training in all of these law enforcement agencies that deal with Indian Country so that they know what to do initially because every day that goes on, that a woman is missing, it gets harder and harder to find her,” Haaland said.

Connectivity is also an issue Haaland believes needs to be addressed.

"We know that New Mexico's rural communities, a lot of times, don't have cell phone service, don't have internet service so there might be somebody who's a victim of a crime and their cell phone doesn't work, they're not getting any service, so that's another issue we truly need to change in this state,” Haaland said.

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Colton Shone

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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