Governor Lujan Grisham signs legislation to provide resources for missing, murdered Indigenous persons
A somber mood was felt throughout the courtyard of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Thursday morning, as family members of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives gather to watch Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sign senate bills 12 and 13 into law.
“With this incredible leadership at the legislature, with a remarkable attorney general, let today be the day, when I ask you all to stand with me when I sign these bills. That we will lead in this effort, that New Mexico will not stand for this injustice. And we reveal the accountability, prevention, and justice to every New Mexican, to every Indigenous community and family in this state.”
Senate bill 12, which was sponsored by Senators Shannon Pinto, Linda Lopez, and Representative Pamelya Herndon, will create the position of a missing Indigenous person specialist with the office of the Attorney General.
This specialist will work in collaboration with local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies on missing Indigenous persons cases pursuant to the Missing Persons Information and Reporting Act.
Senate Bill 13, will create the “Missing In New Mexico” event, which will be an annual event hosted by the Department of Public Safety, in collaboration with the clearinghouse.
It will provide an opportunity for federal, state, local, and tribal governments to come together in one location and assist families to file missing persons reports.
Senator Lopez said this legislation is the start of working towards a solution.
“Acknowledgment of an issue that we do have in our state. But here today, we are going to start moving forward. It’s an issue that we talk about a lot, words. But this is action, this is where it starts.”
Bill sponsor Senator Pino, who represents the Navajo Nation within New Mexico said it was her honor to help the families and relatives that have experienced this tragic loss.
“It was my honor to have this opportunity to help our families, our relatives, and our loved ones.”
Representative Herndon said the opportunity presented by this legislation will put the state in the position to properly address these cases.
“Now we are here with a position and the state’s most powerful law enforcement agency, that will address the issue with consent and working with Native American tribes and pueblos. We will begin to find solutions and preventative measures to missing Indigenous persons cases.”
The Governor then called for the families of the victims to gather around her as she signed the bills into law.
The families around her cheered and sang as the governor finished signing the last piece of legislation.
For one of the mothers, Vangie Randall Shorty, this signing gives her hope.
“Hope, I'm very grateful that people listened. And this is just the beginning, so we’ve still got a long way to go.
Shorty’s son, Zachiariah Shorty went missing in July of 2020, four days later, he was found murdered.
“He was 23, he went missing in Farmington, San Juan County. And he was found a few days later, July 25th, and he was murdered, he had died of gun shot wounds. Not only am I fighting this, the MMIW and relatives. I’m also with the New Mexico crusade for gun violence. Because Zach was murdered by gun violence as well.”
The Governor spent about 30 minutes after the ceremony speaking with and comforting the family members gathered.