The website seeks to draw attention to unresolved missing and murdered Indigenous persons cases the BIA, Office of Justice Services, Missing and Murdered Unit (MMU) is working on and invites the public to help law enforcement solve those cases.
Friday’s announcement came as Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community) participated in a panel on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Crisis at the Western Governors Association Winter Meeting at the Lowes Coronado Bay Resort, in Coronado, Calif.
“The Missing and Murdered Indigenous peoples’ crisis has plagued Indian Country for too long, with cases often going unsolved and unaddressed,” Newland said. “This new website represents a new tool in the effort to keep communities safe and provide closure for families.”
The new site provides detailed case information that can be easily shared, and three pathways to submit important tips and other case information that may help investigators with the detection or investigation of an offense committed in Indian Country.
The site also contains information regarding how to submit tips or case information that may help investigators. For some tips, BIA offers rewards for information assisting in the detection or investigation of an offense committed in Indian country or in the arrest of an offender against the United States. The standard reward may be up to $5,000, depending on the specific details provided. BIA may increase the amount conditional on the circumstances.
Additionally, an important feature of the site is its connectivity to the National Missing and Unidentified Person’s System and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Indian Country Case website, which aims to enhance the Missing and Murdered Unit’s ability to connect cases that involve American Indian and Alaska Native people.
The new website is in addition to the work the Biden administration has undertaken under Interior Deb Haaland’s leadership to address the missing and murdered Indigenous person’s crisis. Within the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration, Secretary Haaland created the MMU to pursue justice for missing or murdered Indigenous people.
For more information, please visit the BIA’s new missing and murdered cases website.
Alert System Proposed for Missing Indigenous Women
Washington State’s legislature is considering a bill that would create an alert system for missing or endangered Indigenous women.
The bill, HB 1725, is being proposed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and State Representative Debra Lekanoff (D-Anacortes).
According to reports, if implemented the alert system would work similar to “silver alerts,” a public notification system often employed when elderly or cognitively impaired adults go missing (for example, when a person with dementia has gone missing) and would broadcast the missing person’s information via highway advisory radio messages and send information to local media.
There is currently no Indigenous peoples-specific alert system in the nation.
“The rate of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Washington is a crisis,” Ferguson said. “We must do everything we can to address this problem. This effective tool will help quickly and safely locate missing Indigenous women and people.”