OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill that would make it easier for law enforcement to investigate missing or murdered indigenous people is moving forward at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Data suggests that indigenous women and girls disappear at a disproportionate rate.
“The missing and murdered rates in Oklahoma, it’s an epidemic,” said Carmen Thomas, with Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women of Central Oklahoma.
Supporters say Native American women and girls go missing at 10 times the rate of other peer groups.
“We know someone who knows someone who has either gone missing or has been murdered, so it touches all of our lives,” said Brenda Golden, a Native American activist.
Supporters say House Bill 3345, known as Ida’s Law, would help. It is named after 29-year-old Ida Beard, a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member who disappeared in 2015.
The bill’s author, Rep. Mickey Dollens, says Ida’s Law would establish a special liaison within the OSBI to help with jurisdictional issues that arise between the state and federal agents when crimes occur on tribal land.
“There are cold cases on the desk of district attorneys that can’t be touched because it’s more of a federal issue,” said Rep. Mickey Dollens, (D) Oklahoma City.
The bill passed through a House committee on Tuesday.
Now, Ida’s Law will head to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives for a vote.