The To’ Kee Skuy’ Soo Ney-Wo-Chek’ (I will see you again in a good way) Project aims to establish a more effective system of investigation surrounding MMIWG2 cases as well as an enhanced level of protection for Native women, girls and two-spirit individuals living in the state of California.
Since the Gold Rush, tribes in California have lost countless women, girls and two-spirit individuals to violence. Most commonly, these crimes are perpetrated by non-Indians and away from tribal jurisdictions. These incidents impact every aspect of tribal communities, ranging from an increased need for services for survivors and their families to heightened strain on tribal law enforcement. The Yurok Tribal Court initiated the To’ Kee Skuy’ Soo Ney-Wo-Chek’ Project to improve outcomes of MMIWG2 cases in the state and eventually the entire United States. There are more federally recognized tribes and tribal citizens in California than any other state.
The Yurok Tribal Court contracted with Sovereign Bodies Institute (SBI), a Native American-owned nonprofit research center dedicated to gender and sexual violence against Indigenous peoples, to collaboratively compile and analyze data on past and ongoing MMIWG2 incidents. This builds on over five years of work Sovereign Bodies Institute has done to build a MMIWG2 database spanning the Americas. SBI manages the much-needed database, which is available to tribes, Indigenous service providers, and other relevant stakeholders upon request. It will also assist Tribal, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies in recording and resolving cases.
Currently, a trio of databases track missing persons cases, including the federal government’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), which until recently, did not make victims’ tribal affiliations accessible. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is similarly lacking as is the State of California’s version of this digital tool. According to the SBI report, 62% of all missing Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people in the state are not documented in any of these data repositories.
Working with the Yurok Tribal Court attorneys and administrative staff, SBI researchers, including Dr. Blythe George, a Yurok citizen who recently earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Sociology & Social Policy Program, have assembled and evaluated 165 MMIWG2 cases for this first-year report and aims to complete its second-year report in July, 2021. The multidisciplinary team also interviewed numerous survivors and their families. With consent, their stories will be used to inform law enforcement, legislators and court officials as well as direct service providers and others about the many facets of this issue.
In addition to creating the comprehensive database, the project endeavors to introduce a formal protocol, integrating tribal, county and federal law enforcement resources into the response to MMIWG2 cases. The first recommendation is for local and federal law enforcement agencies to form cooperative agreements with their tribal counterparts. In conjunction with clarifying jurisdictional concerns up front, this will ensure that an adequate quantity of personnel is dedicated to these cases, 97 percent of which occur outside of tribal law enforcement jurisdictions.
The To’ Kee Skuy’ Soo Ney-Wo-Chek’ Project is funded by US Department of Justice’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) grant.
This project is managed by Yurok Tribal Court’s MMIW Project Manager, Kendall Allen-Guyer. For questions regarding project information or survivor support services please contact her at (707) 458-5483 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see check out our Facebook page at @Seeyouagaininagoodway for events and ways in which you can participate. Wok-hlew’