Geraldine Toya has two reasons to be hopeful.
First, she’s in the process of requesting that the Albuquerque Police Department reopen the case involving her daughter Shawna’s death.
“I feel relief that something is getting done, you know; we’re wanting to still look for justice, answers,” she said.
Second, Toya (Jemez) was in attendance for the signing of legislation that will be a first step to addressing issues of missing and murdered Indigenous people in New Mexico.
“Today’s the day that we are going to make history,” she said. “We’ve been searching for this moment, to get through with what we need, we deserve it. And we’re gonna actually see it and observe it for ourselves. So it’s big, it’s a big opening for us.”
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two bills during an event Thursday at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.
The first piece of legislation will establish, “Missing in New Mexico Day,” an annual event to bring families together with law enforcement entities to establish a connection to resources that can assist these families with cases involving missing or murdered family members.
The second bill signed into law will give the state’s attorney general’s office authority to prosecute these cases and potentially create greater collaboration between police agencies that are responsible for working these cases.
The law also calls for the AG’s Office to form the “partnership in Native American communities network grant program,” designed to distribute up to $1 million in grants for tribes to develop training and criteria that will create a uniform system to report missing persons cases.
“We have a significant issue that demands our attention, every single effort, to bring together the most powerful tools at our disposal to not only ensure that we’re bringing justice, healing to the families, but that in fact, we began to do the real work to prevent such things from happening,” Lujan Grisham said.
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