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New Statewide Alert System for Missing Indigenous People Is a Welcomed Change for Nisqually Tribe

In March, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law that would create a statewide alert system for missing Indigenous people. It was the first of its kind to be put in place across the nation.

Nisqually Tribal Council member Chaynannah Squally was in attendance at the singing event at the Tulalip Tribe's Resort Casino. Squally said the event was beautiful and marked one of her first big events as a councilwoman for the tribe.

"After the bill was signed and Gov. Inslee and his team had left, I was wrapped with a blanket and sat and watched the ceremony take place," Squally said. "I was asked to speak, which I was very nervous about, so I spoke in my ancestral language because not only was I speaking to the people there, I was speaking to our ancestors. This is a huge moment for us all."

The system created is like an Amber Alert, which is used to notify the public when a child or vulnerable adult is reported missing. It will also notify law enforcement when there is a report of a missing Indigenous person. An alert will appear on highway reader boards, on the radio and on social media. Media organizations will also be presented with information on the alerts.

The law expands the definition of "missing endangered person" to include Indigenous people.

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