Guest column: Tribes, Native Public Media urge FCC to establish missing and endangered event code

Carolyn DeFord and Roxanne White march with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland at the 2019 Indigenous Peoples March on Washington. (AP photo)

Carolyn DeFord and Roxanne White march with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland at the 2019 Indigenous Peoples March on Washington. (AP photo)

International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls was Nov. 25. The day commemorates the deaths of Patricia, Minerva and María Teresa Mirabal sisters who were killed by Dominican Republic ruler Rafael Trujillo in 1960.

The day shines a spotlight on the pervasive issue of violence against women worldwide. As we reflect on this, it is imperative to draw attention to another deeply concerning crisis that often goes unnoticed — the alarming rates of missing and murdered indigenous persons. In a pivotal move toward addressing this issue, tribal leaders recently passed a groundbreaking resolution during the National Congress of American Indians held in New Orleans on Nov. 16.

The crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons is a pressing global concern, affecting communities across North America and beyond. According to recent statistics sourced from various indigenous advocacy organizations and government reports, indigenous women and girls face disproportionately high rates of violence compared to other demographic groups. However, the lack of accurate and comprehensive data has long hindered efforts to address this crisis effectively.

In a significant stride toward rectifying this issue, tribal leaders at the National Congress of American Indians came together to pass a resolution poised to make a tangible difference.

Sponsored by Native Public Media, the resolution calls for the Federal Communications Commission to establish an Event Code for Missing and Endangered Persons (MEP). This innovative measure will utilize the nation’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to broadcast timely and critical alerts about missing or endangered indigenous persons.

“The passing of the resolution for a Missing and Endangered Persons FCC event code is a beacon of hope in the fight against the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous persons. As we observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let us not forget to extend our awareness and action to the equally critical issue of ensuring the safety and well-being of indigenous individuals in this country. Through the innovative use of technology, we can work towards a future where no Tribal citizen suffers the tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous persons,” states Loris Taylor, President and CEO of Native Public Media.

The MEP Event Code will enable a more rapid and coordinated response to incidents involving missing indigenous persons, providing an additional layer of protection for vulnerable individuals. By integrating this information into the IPAWS, which is widely utilized by emergency management agencies, law enforcement, and the public, the resolution takes a proactive step toward closing the information gap and ensuring more efficient and widespread dissemination of alerts. IPAWS is available to all fifty states and U.S. territories.

“Native Public Media’s sponsorship of the resolution underscores the vital role that radio and television play in raising awareness and advocating for the rights and safety of indigenous communities,” concludes Taylor.

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