After the Webinar: Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. Q&A with David Rogers

Webinar presenter David Rogers answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.  Here are just a few of his responses.

 

Audience Question Dave, you talked about missing people throughout today’s webinar. How are NamUs and NCMEC involved in this issue of missing native people? 

David Rogers:Well, I know that they have reached out to me to see if I can help them reach out to Native America to be included in those projects. I know that they have already taken steps and are doing, making efforts to get tribes to include that. But it’s kind of like with a lot of different projects when you’re trying to get the tribes included. Like when the FBI was trying to get the tribes included in the LEO project. The bottom line is it really means going out on-site and kind of doing a show me, you know how this is going to benefit them, how it’s going to aid and assist them in putting that information out there to where it can be viewed and comparisons made and perhaps identifications are done. So, there’s a number of groups that have been out there trying to do similar kinds of projects, but I know that they are both reaching out

 

 

Audience Question: What are some of the reasons that the federal government might have revoked a tribe status? I think this goes back to the earlier part of your presentation. 

David Rogers: Well, the federal government has had a pendulum swing of policies throughout the history of Indian country and there was a time when the federal government was going through kind of what we call the termination era and they terminated tribes with a stroke of the pen, they just announced that one point that tribes no longer exist. So there were a lot of tribes that just simply disappeared. Of course, they didn’t, but their boundaries did and their sovereign status disappeared with them. So those tribes have fought back trying to get re-recognized and their tribal status restored and there’s been a number of them that have. And then the other side to that was the PL 280 that they didn’t terminate the tribe. What it did is the Federal Criminal Authority took a step out and then the state Authority came in and it was an unfunded mandate in the states and the county sheriffs in particularly weren’t prepared for that and generally the tribal communities didn’t necessarily have a high priority with those agencies and so fairly, fairly disastrous circumstances got it.

 

 

Audience Question: When a person goes missing do Nations have support systems in place in order to take care of their children? And if not, then who steps in? What happens? 

David Rogers: That’s a really good question. I’m probably not the best person to answer that because

again different tribes are going to have different resources that are available. Some tribes have, you know, youth advocates, children’s programs, foster care programs that are going on out there. So if a child’s parents one or both, if there was only a single parent, go missing generally, there’s going to be some level of foster care family involvement with Indian Country families generally are very involved with each other. So there’s somebody that’s going to take care of them. From my side of it from a law enforcement side. I would be reaching out to those resources again, some tribes have it and some other tribes are limited. So, it would kind of depend. Sorry, that’s not a great answer but that’s all I got probably.

 

 

Audience Question: What is the reason why some states do not allow tribal officers to attend law enforcement training? 

David Rogers: Ancient histories, a lot of it, you know, sometimes you do have to bring up the racial history of a tribe’s existence in a particular State. There is a lot of old histories that evolved with animosity and old hatred on both sides. I mean literally it’s on both sides at times. In my particular instance, I worked in three states. I worked in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, and Oregon is the most progressive in terms of working with its tribes and recognizing tribal law enforcement in their Senate Bill. Washington always had a pretty challenging relationship with its tribes and when that similar proposal was made, Washington fought it tooth and nail, not the state, but the sheriff’s departments, but eventually, it was passed. It’s a little bit different than Oregon’s. The tribal police have state authority within their boundaries and not outside of the boundaries. Whereas in Oregon tribal police have that authority anywhere within the state. Idaho is one of those states that they do not recognize tribal police as peace officers I’ve even had the occasion to have a sheriff threatened to arrest my officers for impersonating police officers while they were serving, doing their duties within the boundaries of the reservation. So a lot of misunderstanding, miscommunication, old hatreds, old animosities that date back many decades. So it kind of varies from state to state. California actually is another one that has had its history of challenging in that area that resulted in some pretty sad events that took place down in Southern California.

 

 

Audience Question: Our legal aid agency operates on state and tribal lands. We want orders of protection issued in tribal courts to have full faith and credit in state and county jurisdiction but there’s no one from any agency tasked with entering the orders and data in local law enforcement databases. What would you recommend? 

David Rogers: That’s a challenge in places that don’t have the staffing or you know, the 24-hour coverage to be able to do that and that becomes a challenge when for example a tribe issues a protection order. We ran into that too. I did not have 24-hour staffing and we would have protection orders and the local sheriff’s office wouldn’t keep them in their file. So my officers will if that if there was something that would happen they’d have to run back to the office open it up get in there find it and into in order to take it back to take any action there. The state of California oddly enough, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Olmond(?) and the California State Post Academy, they put together a really excellent video on state recognition of tribal protection orders and in the equitable sharing of that information. If you go to the post website, I believe you can find that or at least ask for it really well done and it should be replicated by every state.

 

 

Audience Question: What is the one point that you would like all of us non-tribal law enforcement agencies and criminal justice professionals nationally to take away regarding the missing and murdered indigenous women issue? What’s the one thing if you could leave us with one insight, what would it be? 

David Rogers: Well, it would be the same wish I’ve had everywhere I’ve worked and that is respect and cooperation amongst police agencies working collaboratively with tribal police and with tribal justice programs and tribal victims to see if the missing person case can be moved forward without any kind of political or other obstacles. When the agencies work together and they’re all on the same page and they equally respect each other so much more can get done so much quicker than when you’re fighting all the political barriers. That would be my one thing.

 

Click Here to Watch a Recording of Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

 

 

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