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Indigenous Nations Unite for Safety: NCAI's Mid-Year Convention in Cherokee, NC

Last week, from June 1st to 6th, Cherokee, NC, became the epicenter of a vital gathering as the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) hosted its Mid-Year Convention and Marketplace. This event, drawing Tribal Leaders from across the nation, emphasized the imperative mission of safeguarding and advancing Indigenous peoples' rights, laws, and cultures within the American landscape.

One of the focal points of the convention was a presentation by Brian Wadsworth, Financial Director of Native Public Media (NPM), who addressed the Technology Task Force regarding the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Missing and Endangered Persons (MEP) Event Code.

Wadsworth's presentation underscored the significance of Indigenous Nations actively participating in the Integration Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) by assuming the role of alerting authorities. By doing so, these nations would possess the capability to issue emergency alerts through the same channels utilized by state jurisdictions and other agencies. Like the widely recognized AMBER Alert system, the proposed MEP Event Code would empower communities to issue alerts for missing or endangered individuals aged 18 or older, addressing a critical gap in the current emergency alert infrastructure.

Disturbingly, statistics reveal a disproportionate vulnerability among Indigenous communities. In 2022 alone, the United States and its territories reported 22,160 cases of missing individuals, with American Indian/Alaska Native people accounting for 3% of these cases despite constituting only around 1% of the total population.

Reflecting on these stark realities, Wadsworth remarked, "Unfortunately, as Indigenous people, we are at a higher risk of experiencing violence in our communities. This MEP Event Code marks a significant stride towards safeguarding our Indigenous communities. However, achieving comprehensive protection demands collective effort and engagement from each and every one of us."


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