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HomeNewsMontana NewsAttorney General Knudsen announces appointments to the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task...

Attorney General Knudsen announces appointments to the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force

Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced today the appointments to the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force. The task force aims to overcome jurisdictional obstacles and identify underlying causes contributing to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous persons.

During the 2023 legislative session, Attorney General Knudsen supported House Bill sponsored by Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, which extended the task force’s mandate for 10 years and allocated resources for a full-time program coordinator. This extension will enable the task force to establish and pursue long-term objectives aimed at effectively addressing the crisis of missing Indigenous persons in Montana.

“I am eager to collaborate with this task force in finding solutions to end the crisis of missing Indigenous persons in Montana,” Attorney General Knudsen stated. “Today’s meeting was productive, and I have confidence that the members are prepared to tackle this challenge. Together, we can locate the missing individuals and reunite them with their families.”

The individuals appointed or reappointed to the task force are as follows:

Alan Doane, representing the Montana Attorney General’s Office
Yolanda Fraser, representing the Northern Cheyenne Tribe
Brian Frost, representing the Montana Department of Justice
Stacie FourStar, representing the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes
Chrystal Hickman, representing the Montana Office of Public Instruction
Cheryl Horn, representing Fort Belknap Indian Community
Iris Kill Eagle, representing the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe
Danielle Matt, representing the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes
Amanda Myers, representing the United States Attorney’s Office
Haley Omeasoo, At-large member
Dr. Alan Ostby, representing the Indian Health Services
Derek Werner, representing Montana Highway Patrol
Jonathan Windy Boy, representing the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation
Sarah Wolftail, representing the Blackfeet Nation

Indigenous persons in Montana experience a disproportionate rate of disappearances compared to other racial groups. In the previous year, Indigenous individuals accounted for 31 percent of the 1,386 total missing persons cases reported by law enforcement. Despite this disparity, Montana law enforcement agencies achieved a remarkable 99 percent clearance rate for missing Indigenous persons in 2023. Of the 693 Indigenous persons reported missing last year, only five cases remain unresolved.

During the 2023 legislative session, Attorney General Knudsen backed House Bill 18, proposed by Rep. Running Wolf. This bill established a grant program aimed at training missing persons response teams, enhancing the Montana Department of Justice’s efforts to address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people across the state.

In 2021, Attorney General Knudsen launched an upgraded online missing persons database. This improved platform facilitates easier access for law enforcement agencies and the public, aiding in the search efforts for all missing persons in Montana. It ensures timely and accurate information by integrating updates from agencies statewide into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database of missing persons.

By: Big Sky Headlines staff

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