State House approves McCabe bill to help identify missing Native American women

Rep. Gina McCabe (left) and Earth-Feather Sovereign. A member of the Confederated Tribes Of the Colville Reservation, Sovereign worked with McCabe on drafting the bill. Photo courtesy of Earth-Feather Sovereign. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State Rep. Gina McCabe’s bill that could help identify missing Native American women is headed to the governor’s desk.

The Senate unanimously approved the Goldendale Republican’s bill late last week to require the Washington State Patrol to work with tribal and local law enforcement, urban Indian organizations and the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to study ways to increase state resources for reporting and identifying missing Native American women in the state.

In 2009, the FBI released the results of a two-year probe into the deaths of 16 women on the Yakama Reservation from 1980 to 1993. Federal authorities said the deaths weren’t the work of a serial killer.

At one point in the investigation, an FBI spokesman said there may be as many as 32 unsolved cases on the Yakama Reservation involving missing persons and deaths.

McCabe said she was inspired by the movie “Wind River” to look into the issue of missing Native American women. The movie is a fictional account of the search for the killers of a Native American woman on a Wyoming reservation. However, the movie’s writer and director said the story was inspired by true events.

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