A bill introduced by Arizona Senator John McCain and North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp is aimed at expanding the Amber Alert system to Native American Reservations.
The House has passed the bill, and still awaits a vote in the Senate. McCain says the Navajo community in New Mexico was rocked by the disappearance and murder of 11 year old Ashlynn Mike, where an Amber Alert was not issued until the day after her family reported her abduction. The Department of Justice is currently running a pilot program that offers Amber Alert training services to Native American tribes, but this bill would make that initiative permanent. Heitkamp says it may seem shocking - but reservations across the country are not equipped with Amber Alert systems.
"It's critical because those first couple hours are absolutely essential to making sure that we recover anyone who's been abducted, and make sure that we are protecting our children. Whether you're protected in our society shouldn't depend whether you live on or off Indian Country. I'm grateful that the House has passed their version of the bill, it will come back to the Senate, and we'll get it to the President's desk. Then we'll be one step closer to protecting all the people of our state - including those in Indian Country."
Heitkamp has worked on other initiatives to serve Native Americans, including Savanna's Act which addresses the crisis of missing Native American women.