Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature

House MN

'Minnesota will not let indigenous women continue to vanish'

Mysti Babineau testifies Jan. 29 before the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division on HF70, which would create a task force on missing and murdered indigenous women. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Mysti Babineau was raped for the first time when she was just 9 years old. Three years later, she and her grandmother were violently assaulted, resulting in the death of her grandmother and deep knife wounds to Babineau’s hand.

Such traumatic and violent events are all too common among Native American women and girls, Babineau told the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division Tuesday. An unknown number of Native American women and girls also disappear each year, she testified, most presumably dead or victims of sex trafficking.

Babineau and several other Native American women spoke in support of HF70, a bill that would create a task force to track the number of missing Native American women and girls in the state, and to analyze the systemic reasons for the high rate of disappearance in that population.

Committee discusses proposed Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

The division approved the bill and sent it to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The goal of the task force would be to better understand the causes of violence against indigenous women and to reduce and prevent violence where it is happening. The task force would include members of the indigenous community, law enforcement, policymakers and the public.

“We can send a message that Minnesota will not let indigenous women continue to vanish,” Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL-New Brighton) said before the meeting.

Kunesh-Podein, the bill sponsor, noted that there is currently no state or national system in place to collect data on missing and murdered Native American women and girls in Minnesota.

On some reservations, she said, women are killed at a rate more than 10 times the national average.  And Department of Justice statistics show that one in three Native American women will at some point in their life be raped.

The bill would appropriate $67,000 in Fiscal Year 2020 and $33,000 in Fiscal Year 2021 to fund the task force.

The companion, SF515, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Mpls), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

Related Articles

Priority Dailies

Budget forecast: Projected surplus drops by almost $500 million, still tops $1 billion
The state has a $1.05 billion projected budget surplus for the upcoming biennium, Minnesota Management and Budget officials announced Thursday.
Walz budget would raise gas tax, emphasize education, health care
Education, health care and community prosperity are key targets for funding in the 2020-21 biennial budget proposed by Gov. Tim Walz.
Committee deadlines for 2019 unveiled
Legislators and the public officially know the timeline for getting bills through the committee process.
House committees, schedule and chairs announced for 2019-20 biennium
The framework for the 2019 legislative session took shape Wednesday as House DFL leaders announced the committee structure, chairs and the schedule lawmakers will follow when they reconvene Jan. 8, 2019.
Omnibus bills provide framework for the state's biennial budget plan
At the beginning of the state’s two-year fiscal cycle, the first year of the legislative session is traditionally a “budget year.” It’s a lengthy process, but it’s one that requ...

Minnesota House on Twitter