A group of state lawmakers from both parties wants the Minnesota Legislature to set up a task force to find out why Native women are suffering from violence two-and-a-half times more often than any other group. Ojibwe elder Mary Lyons choked back tears when she told reporters, “My sister was murdered. I was left with three beautiful boys that should have known their mother and not me… We have to wake up, and I believe the awakening is happening now. So I say, Mii Gwech [Thank you].” Lyons contends a special investigation unit would cost less than foster care or adoption for children left behind.
Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein from New Brighton says because families haven’t been able to get answers about what happened to loved ones, they’re not reporting it. “They feel that they’re not being heard,” she says. “They feel that the historical impression that they’re invisible, that they don’t matter anyway, that there are other important crimes to solve right now.”
Backers say a task force would cost less than a million dollars per year. Elk River Republican Nick Zerwas is a co-sponsor of the bill.