SACRAMENTO—The Assembly today unanimously approved a resolution designating May as California Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Month; it was introduced by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland).
“California has the sixth highest death rate of indigenous women in urban cities – and our state has the largest Native American population in the country,” Ramos said. “Native American women face a pandemic of violence against them, and we must be persistent and consistent in increasing awareness, increasing preventative measures and in resolving these cases so loved ones can have closure.”
Ramos, the first California Native American elected to the Legislature successfully authored AB 3099 last year. It authorized funding for the state Department of Justice to assist local and tribal law enforcement, improve collaboration among tribes and sponsor a study to increase protective and investigative resources for reporting and identifying missing Native Americans in California, particularly women and girls. As chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Native American Affairs, he also conducted two informational hearings about this issue.
Ramos cited a 2012 report by the federal Department of Justice which stated:
- Nearly half of all Native American women-- 46 percent-- have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
- One in three Indian women will, at some point in her life, experience the violence and trauma of rape.
- On some reservations Native American women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average.
- In 2016, more than 5,700 cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls were reported to the National Crime Center.
Ramos added, “What makes these statistics even more horrifying and shameful is that we know these cases are underreported or misclassified. Last year, I successfully authored AB 3099 which authorizes the Attorney General to work with tribal and local law enforcement to improve data collection, collaboration and awareness. I am looking forward to building on this effort with Attorney General Rob Bonta.”
“An injustice against any of us is an injustice against all,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “When our indigenous brothers and sisters are hurting, we must stand united in support. No indigenous women or girls should have to live in fear of being victimized. We must not shy away from the reality that this is happening all too often and that too many go without getting justice. It will take all of us working together to better understand and, eventually, solve this problem. California is home to more Native Americans than any other state in the country. We have to lead the way forward. I’m proud to be part of that effort in working to recognize May 2021 as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Month in the State of California.”
Ramos said he was heartened that the Department of the Interior recently established the Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services. “That will add weight and new energy to the investigation to resolving these cases.”
Before the vote was taken on HR 40, 73 Republicans and Democrats, joined in as co-authors.
Ramos opened the day’s floor session with a Native American prayer in honor of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state’s legislature.