Wisconsin AG: We need data tracking missing and murdered indigenous women

Members were announced for a new state task force aimed at helping Native American women
Outside the offices of Oneida Nation
Outside the offices of Oneida Nation(WBAY)
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 5:53 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin’s attorney general says the problems at indigenous communities have been largely ignored by the legislature.

“I don’t want to wait any longer to move forward, that’s why we didn’t want to wait for another legislative session to hope that legislation might pass,” Josh Kaul said on Thursday.

He announced on Thursday morning members of the state’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, which includes one person from each tribal nation.

As Action 2 News first reported in July, Kaul’s office launched the group shortly after 22-year-old Menominee woman Katelyn Kelley disappeared.

Kaul stressed the need for a database to track these type of cases.

“There isn’t great data collection on this issue and that’s because it hasn’t been examined through the lens specifically of missing and murdered woman in indigenous communities,” Kaul said.

Councilwoman Jennifer Webster of Oneida Nation is on the task force and said she doesn’t know why Native American women are targeted.

“[We need to bring] together those tribes, so that we can put together some type of frame work for data collection,” Councilwoman Webster said. “Right now, Wisconsin has no data collection for our officers to tap into for missing or murdered indigenous women.”

Webster stated that she believes human trafficking may be at play for what she labeled as an increase in missing and murdered indigenous women.

Attorney General Kaul also said there has been an increase in these cases.

“I think we need to look for more prevention, we need to be more aware, [and] we need to protect our women,” Webster said.

There’s also a major discrepancy in the data that are available.

For instance, the National Crime Information Center in 2016 reported that nearly 6,000 indigenous girls and women were missing. The federal government listed just 116.

Kaul said his goal is for the task force to publish a report by next year on ways to address this problem. He didn’t give a specific date because he said the pandemic may impact the group’s work.

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