Members sought for state Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives task force

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A state task force charged with examining the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives is expanding its membership and seeking nominations from New Mexicans for people to serve.

A press release from the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department states that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order this month that increased membership on New Mexico Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force.

"We want to invite you to nominate representatives that are committed to this cause and have the time and capacity to support the task force as it develops a state response plan that addresses systemic changes needed to improve prevention, reporting and investigation of MMIWR incidents," the release states.

Participants in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Memorial Honor Walk call attention to the issue on May 5, 2021 while proceeding on U.S. Highway 64 in Shiprock.

The task force was created in 2019 following House Bill 278 being signed into law. The bill called on the state to research the MMIWR issue that impacts members of the four tribes and 19 pueblos in the state.

The executive order, signed on May 5 by Lujan Grisham, established the next phase of the task force and allows up to 40 people to serve.

This phase will develop a state response plan that will advise the executive branch on initiatives, programs and policy changes that will support implementation of recommendations from the report the then 11-member task force released in December 2020.

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Memorial Honor Walk starts on May 5, 2021 at the motor pool building in Shiprock.

They will evaluate policies and explore legislation that can be presented to state lawmakers and introduced during the 2022 Legislative Session.

"Expanding and strengthening the work of the task force to identify and implement solutions is a vital next step toward ending this crisis and achieving justice for all those impacted by this crisis," Lujan Grisham said in a press release.

Nominations are open to community members, but it is helpful if nominees have worked or have experience in areas such as courts, law enforcement, advocacy and providing direct services, or working for a tribal government.

Tribal representatives are welcome to participate but will need a letter of support from the tribal government represented.

More:Panel discusses closing digital divide on Navajo Nation

Nominees can also be Indigenous survivors of violence, family members of an Indigenous relative who has been a victim of violence, members of the LGBTQ and Two-Spirited community or Indigenous youth.

The department will review resumes and a statement of interest as part of the selection process.

The nomination form is available at www.iad.state.nm.us/mmiwr-nomination. The deadline for submitting nominations is June 7.

Indian Affairs Department Secretary Lynn Trujillo will appoint task force members. The department hopes the new membership will start meeting in July.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.