(KRON) – A disproportionately high number of Native Americans go missing or are murdered every year. The Urban Indian Health Institute’s studies found more than 5,700 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in recent years.

Aiko Little from San Francisco says her family and friends can unfortunately easily list off loved ones who have not yet been found.

“A lot of cousins, aunties, a lot of uncles. Recently someone that is major in our community had a brief instance where her daughter went missing. Luckily she was found but most of the relatives, they have yet to be found and there are still families out there that have yet to know what’s going on with them,” she said.

The report found that out of the thousands who disappeared, only 116 native women were placed on the DOJ’s missions persons list. So California lawmakers identified a need for a new tool to help in the search. The new feather alert is now in effect. 

California Highway Partol, who is in charge of the statewide alert systems, will now be sending notifications to the public to help in the search.

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“It really does help law enforcement out,” CHP’s Andrew Barclay said. “Obviously we can’t be everywhere at once, so having extra eyes out there really does help in recovering people who have been abducted with obviously the goal of getting them home safely.”

Several things have to happen for this alert to be activated:

  • Police learn that a car is involved in the incident
  • They get specific details on that vehicle
  • The person missing is indigenous
  • Law enforcement has used local and tribal resources
  • The circumstances are unexplained or suspicious
  • The person is believed to be in danger
  • Sharing information could help in the search.

“Finally it is about time that we have some sort of system in place so that not only our indigenous relatives know what is going on but specifically the indigenous population,” Little said.