TULALIP, Wash. — A significant step forward for Native Americans across Washington came Thursday, as Governor Jay Inslee signed into law protections for missing and murdered Indigenous people.
At the signing ceremony on the Tulalip reservation, the tribe put their culture on full display and celebrated the new bill signing.
Among the faces in the crowd was Monie Ordonia, a member of the Tulalip Tribe and family friend of a missing Tulalip woman.
"Her family are still grieving and still struggling," said Ordonia.
Mary Johnson Davis disappeared from the reservation in December of 2020.
She became the face of a movement that is now law in Washington.
Governor Jay Inslee signed into law protections and services for Indigenous people who are missing, murdered or survivors of human trafficking.
Another new law also creates an alert system for missing Indigenous people -- similar to Amber Alerts for missing children.
Washington has the second-highest number of missing Indigenous people in the nation and there are four times more missing Native American women across the state as there are white women.
Washington State Rep. Debra Lekanoff sponsored the legislation. She is the only Indigenous person in the state legislature.
Lekanoff said Native women have suffered in silence for too long.
"The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Bill removes the hand from the mouths of the women who are screaming," said Lekanoff. "Now, you will hear the women who have been taken, the women who have yet to be taken, and we will tell the women in the future we will take care of them."
Governor Inslee said other states are now looking at Washington's landmark legislation to better protect their Native populations.
The new laws give people like Monie renewed hope that their loved ones will come home again.
"It means a lot so that there can be closure and so she can give the family the peace that she deserves, the peace that they deserve," she said.