Yurok Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Policy Work

The crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) is a national humanitarian crisis, with California ranking fifth in the nation for incidents of MMIP, and the far north of the state accounting for most cases. The Yurok Tribe, based in Klamath, CA, is the largest surviving tribe in the state. The Kee-Cha-E-Nar Corporation provides support to build on response efforts, policy advocacy campaigns, and other communication efforts; all of these programs are needed to create change.

The Yurok Tribe has created the infrastructure for the first time ever to galvanize these efforts. The Tribe has led efforts to gather the social policy data needed to address MMIP, through the publication of three comprehensive reports, called the

To’ Kee Skuy’ Soo Ney-Wo-Chek’ Project. The final report provides an important roadmap for moving forward to address the cases of MMIP as well as the many underlying causes. The Tribe has also led in the state of California by gathering tribal leaders, survivors, and advocates from across the state to create an action plan to end the crisis. Most recently on October 4th, the Yurok Tribe spearheaded the first-ever Northern California MMIP Policy Summit, where more than two dozen tribal leaders, representing tribes in every corner of the state, joined the call to action to ask our state and federal policymakers to address the crisis.

California Feather Alert Bill

On December 7th, 2022, Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James, California Assemblymember James C. Ramos, and tribal leaders from across the state participated in a roundtable discussion on the implementation of the Feather Alert bill. Assemblymember James C. Ramos championed the bill and led the dialogue, which featured commentary from law enforcement professionals, including Yurok Tribal Police Department Lieutenant Jacob Morris and Amber Alert Coordinator Captain Ken Roberts.

“I sincerely thank Assembly Member Ramos for addressing the MMIP crisis in California,” said Joseph L. James, the Yurok Tribe’s Chairman. “I am grateful for the opportunity to provide input on the implementation of the new Feather Alert system. Throughout the state, the new system will significantly improve outcomes in cases involving missing indigenous people.”

AB 1314 authorizes the California Department of Highway Patrol to issue a Feather Alert at the request of law enforcement when an indigenous person is reported missing under “unexplained or suspicious circumstances.” The CHP can also assist the investigating agency by distributing “a be-on-the-lookout alert, an electronic flyer, or changeable message signs,” according to the bill.

1st Annual Northern California MMIP Summit

On Tuesday, October 4, the Yurok Tribe hosted the first-ever statewide policy summit on Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP). The 1st Annual Northern California Tribal Summit on MMIP brought together tribal leaders, law enforcement officials, and MMIP survivors as well as state and federal lawmakers, academic researchers, and victim advocates to identify solutions to stop the crisis. The summit took place at the Arcata Community Center in Arcata, California.

“The crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people has touched every tribal citizen in California and throughout the United States. This has gone on long enough. The time for action is now,” said Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James. “The purpose of this summit is to develop a series of mutually agreeable actions that tribal, federal, and state stakeholders can take in the short- and long-term to protect Indigenous Californians.”