Native American activists in Oklahoma push for Ida’s Law

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - Activists say they want to start addressing a nationwide issue in the Sooner State.

The number of missing and murdered indigenous people is staggering, which is why Native American groups headed to the Oklahoma State Capitol on Monday.

They are supporting bills this legislative session that they say might help the problem.

Data suggests that indigenous women and girls disappear at a disproportionate rate. Currently, there are three bills in the Oklahoma House that look to help with what some are calling an epidemic.

“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.

Native American activists are also pushing for legislation that would require Native American training as part of CLEET certification. They also want to push through a bill that would establish a “RED ALERT,” which would be similar to a silver or amber alert, for missing indigenous people.

“If there is a Red Alert and someone sees something, says something, it saves someone,” said Golden.

In the last three years, Carmen Thomas says her organization has documented 150 indigenous women and 80 Native Oklahoma men who were reported missing.

Ida’s Law is scheduled to be heard by a committee next week.

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