COVELO, Calif. — In the past month, two members of the Round Valley Indian Tribes were found murdered in the latest spike of the region's Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) crisis.
On Monday, tribal leaders declared a State of Emergency due to these cases and others in the past couple of months.
"We're reaching for resources and help and assistance to put a stop to the senseless violence," Round Valley Indian Tribes Chairman Randall Britton said.
The most recent victim was 16-year-old Ruby Sky Montelongo, who was found murdered on Saturday. Just weeks earlier, 20-year-old Nicholas Whipple was murdered on the same reservation in Mendocino County.
"In the last five years, it's been a huge spike, and now it's really showing with our youth," Britton said.
Britton attributes these violent crimes to increased drug use among the tribal use, which he said tends to surge during the cannabis growing season.
"We see the crime wave along with the spike of the population when the cannabis season comes into full force, because what we're experiencing is the overwhelming drug trade that comes along with the cannabis," Britton said.
Britton himself has lost a relative to the MMIP crisis. Khadijah Britton, who went missing under suspicious circumstances in 2018, is one of the more well-known cases in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties. Her case is still open and her body has yet to be found.
"This is going on five years and with no resolve, and this family has not had a chance to grieve and mourn her loss because the questions have not been answered," Britton said.
In its declaration, the tribe calls on the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and even federal agencies to assist in the regional crisis.
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