Lujan Grisham signs bill to aid investigations of missing Native persons - Albuquerque Journal

Lujan Grisham signs bill to aid investigations of missing Native persons

Orlando Cruz of Santa Ana Pueblo warms up before playing his Native American drum at the signing ceremony for legislation on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham siged the bills into law Thursday at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Journal capitol Bureau

Surrounded by families searching for missing relatives, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation Thursday empowering the Attorney General’s Office to take the lead on cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women.

She also approved a companion bill establishing an annual event intended to connect the relatives of missing persons in New Mexico with law enforcement and other services.

The approvals came in a signing ceremony at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center as about 30 family members of missing persons carried signs and called out thanks to the governor and law enforcement. Some cried and shared hugs with Lujan Grisham afterward.

“This is a somber recognition,” the governor said, “that we have a significant issue that demands our attention, every single effort and bringing together the most powerful tools at our disposal.”

One of the measures she signed, Senate Bill 12, is aimed at easing jurisdictional complications and applying extra resources to help solve missing person cases.

It creates a specialist position within the Attorney General’s Office to help coordinate law enforcement efforts and assist – with the permission of Native American tribes, nations and pueblos – the prosecution and investigation of missing person cases.

The bill appropriates $1 million to support the work. The legislation is also intended to make the Attorney General’s Office the lead point of contact for families looking for answers.

“One day, we hope to walk into a courtroom with you and seek justice for your family members,” Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas said as he addressed the crowd.

Lujan Grisham, also a Democrat, signed Senate Bill 13, too, creating an annual event dedicated to missing persons in New Mexico. It would allow families to file missing person reports, submit DNA records and meet with investigators.

Zia Pueblo Gov. Jerome Lucero offered a blessing and delivered some of his remarks in Keres, his native language.

“This is a great first step,” he said, but “we have much more work to do.”

Gallup resident Meskee Yatsayte, a member of a state task force dedicated to missing and murdered Indigenous women, read out a list of missing persons dating back to 1986 during the ceremony.

“We shouldn’t have to fight this hard to be seen,” she said.

In a recent six-year period, about 290 Indigenous women were reported missing in the state, according to a report by the state task force.

New Mexico had almost 930 active missing persons cases this month.

Joining the governor at the ceremony were the sponsors of Senate Bill 12: Senate Majority Whip Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque; Sen. Shannon Pinto, D-Gallup; and Rep. Pamelya Herndon, D-Albuquerque.

“The fight ain’t over,” Lopez said.

The missing persons bills are the first to receive the governor’s signature since the 30-day legislative session ended last week. The governor has until March 9 to act on legislation passed in the final days of the session.

 

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Lujan Grisham signs bill to aid investigations of missing Native persons


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
As wildfires rage, state says unemployment assistance is available
ABQnews Seeker
Assistance is available for weeks of ... Assistance is available for weeks of unemployment beginning April 10 through Nov. 5
2
Defendant says he shot JB White 'to stop him'
ABQnews Seeker
Montoya takes stand, says SF basketball ... Montoya takes stand, says SF basketball star chased him, was about to 'throw a power punch'
3
Grandma gets honorary degree for aiding New Mexico community
ABQnews Seeker
She runs Socorro's Restaurant in Hernández She runs Socorro's Restaurant in Hernández
4
Oil producers striking it rich
ABQnews Seeker
NM, other states struggle to replace ... NM, other states struggle to replace fossil fuel tax revenue
5
Governor appoints former U.S. Navy officer to state Cabinet ...
ABQnews Seeker
Dye appointed to run state agency ... Dye appointed to run state agency tasked with natural disaster response
6
Suspect dies over weekend in county jail
ABQnews Seeker
Woman was accused of stabbing boyfriend ... Woman was accused of stabbing boyfriend to death
7
Fifth suspect arrested in 2021 fatal shooting at West ...
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico State Police have arrested ... New Mexico State Police have arrested the fifth and final suspect in the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Ryan Saavedra Jr last year. Ajole Guzman, ...
8
Albuquerque issues health alert for wildfire smoke
ABQnews Seeker
The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Program ... The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Program issued a health alert on Monday afternoon because of wildfire smoke. People with respiratory conditions in the Albuquerque ...
9
Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire now largest wildfire in state ...
ABQnews Seeker
The teams battling the Calf Canyon/Hermits ... The teams battling the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire said Monday morning that the blaze has grown to more than 298,000 acres, making it the ...