TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) – The Arizona State Study Committee on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples wants more resources for people living on reservations.
They held a public hearing on October 14 on the Tohono O’odham Nation.
They are not only trying to figure out how to do better for families, but they are also trying to prevent new cases from occurring.
This gives hope to mother Elayne Gregg. Her seven-year-old daughter, Rhia Almeida, disappeared in 2009.
“She took to the streets to play with a friend and she disappeared for a few hours. We had gone to look for her, and her body was found, just down the street from our house. She was found in a ditch said Gregg.
Gregg said she was lucky to have had a successful investigation. The attacker was found later that night and convicted four years later.
She said her situation was very different from that on the reserve.
“The cases I see on the reserve have had far worse outcomes than ours,”
Her case occurred in Pima County, so many of the victim services she received from Tucson were very helpful.
She said services such as counseling have helped the healing process, but there are barriers on the reservation such as availability and transportation.
“My fight here with my people is to ensure that one day they receive the same kind of services that I received off the reserve.”
She brought this fight to the public hearing for missing and murdered indigenous peoples.
Arizona State Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, chair of the committee, said it was a priority.
“How can we increase access to services, how can we ease some of their pain while having to bury a loved one,” Jermaine said. “One of the things the state did for the very first time was to fund non-profit organizations that are in reservation areas that work on domestic violence, on services for childhood, on housing problems. We know that when people are unstable, in their family situation or in their housing situation, it causes stress and increases the factors and the likelihood of violence.
Gregg said she’s glad the state is taking action and looks forward to the next steps.
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