Tlingit and Haida VAW Task Force to Gather Community Response to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Alaska

By Pamela Stearns

It has been more than a year since the unsolved suspicious death of Jade Williams (19) of Kake, and nearly a year since the death of Francile Turpin (37) of Klawock. Now, more than ever, our community demands action to end this violence.

The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) Violence Against Women (VAW) task force has placed its emphasis on the missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) of Alaska as one of its priorities for its first year. The task force is a community-driven multi-agency consultation with the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center to create strategy and community response to end domestic violence and address MMIW. The task force goals include: education, implementing policies to ensure perpetrator accountability, and coordination

The CCTHITA-VAW task force will work toward a consistent response from law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and probation officers, educators, and elected officials to the disproportionate violence against American Indians and Alaska Natives. Violence against women is not traditional. It is a manifestation of colonization, sexism, and racism, and it erodes our sovereignty. Together, we can help bring about a more effective and structural approach to justice that not only gathers data on the missing, but solves murders and helps prevent them in the first place.