OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – One bill on lawmakers’ plates Monday was Ida’s Law, a plan supporters say would help solve crimes in Native American communities.
Studies show that Native American women and girls are 10 times more likely to disappear than similar peer groups.
Today, a bill was heard in a Senate Committee that’s designed to help solve crimes that are devastating indigenous families.
“I witnessed the grief and the heart break that has been brought upon my own family,” said Larenda Morgan about the disappearance of her cousin, Ida Beard, the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes member vanished without a trace in 2015.
Morgan was on hand today for the reading of “Ida’s Law.”
“It’s very important to me. I’ve personally experienced my family going through the difficulties,” said Morgan.
The legislation was initially proposed last year, but was stalled by the pandemic.
Ida’s law would link up with the national program “Operation Lady Justice” and take federal dollars to set up a law enforcement official within the OSBI.
That person would be dedicated to solving Native American cases through coordinating the efforts of city, county, state, federal and tribal law enforcement offices.
“They have people in their communities, they have tribal members missing, they want them found they want it looked at. They want them investigated and they should and we should be doing that,” said Senator Paul Rosino, who authored and read the bill in committee on Monday.
He says right now there are more than 220 indigenous people that have disappeared in the state, 14 in his own south Oklahoma City district.
“These missing people have families, they have friends and they are part of our state and our communities, and we should be doing all we can to find them,” said Rosino.
Tribal leaders say this problem has been an issue in Native communities for centuries. This bill would help mend relationships between tribal nations and law enforcement.
“We need a liaison, someone who can bridge those gaps, so that a lot of cases will get investigated appropriately,” said Morgan.
The bill unanimously passed through committee. Ida’s Law is now eligible for debate on the senate floor.