The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a national strategy to address missing and murdered Native Americans. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Initiative places MMIP coordinators in U.S. Attorney’s offices in 11 states, including Oklahoma, who will develop protocols for a more coordinated law enforcement response to missing cases.
The plan also calls for the deployment of the FBI’s most advanced response capabilities when needed, improved data collection and analysis, and training to support local response efforts.
“American Indian and Alaska Native people suffer from unacceptable and disproportionately high levels of violence, which can have lasting impacts on families and communities. Native American women face particularly high rates of violence, with at least half suffering sexual or intimate-partner violence in their lifetime. Too many of these families have experienced the loss of loved ones who went missing or were murdered,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “This important initiative will further strengthen the federal, state, and tribal law enforcement response to these continuing problems.”
“The FBI recognizes the violence that tribal communities face and is fully committed to working with our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to provide support to those impacted by these crimes,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “We are dedicated to delivering justice and to the FBI’s mission to protect all the people we serve. We reaffirm our focus on allocating resources to serve Native American needs.”
In Oklahoma, the MMIP coordinator will be based at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Oklahoma but will directly assist all three U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in the state.
“Our Pledge of Allegiance ends with the phrase ‘with liberty and justice for all.’ Attorney General Barr’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons plan furthers that ideal,” said Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma. “I’m proud to see this Justice Department including Native American victims as a crucial part of our violent crime reduction strategy.”
“The joint MMIP coordinator will maximize the collaborative efforts of the three Oklahoma United States Attorney’s Offices as we work toward the shared goal of ensuring appropriate response to missing and murdered indigenous people in Oklahoma,” said Brian J. Kuester, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. “Our MMIP coordinator will undoubtedly find great support from our federal, tribal, state, and local law enforcement partners and non-governmental service organizations who understand and appreciate that working together we can and will enhance public safety in Indian Country.”
“I am pleased to leverage our great working relationship with our sister U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Oklahoma to address violence in Indian Country,” said Timothy J. Downing, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. “Together, we will use this new resource to protect Native Americans throughout the state.”
“The Cherokee Nation has held strong partnerships with the U.S. Attorney’s offices in the Northern and Eastern Districts, which is essential for the protection of our tribal communities and prevention of missing and murdered Native Americans in Indian Country,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said. “We know these new efforts to enhance law enforcement coordination will improve data sharing and help reduce the violence against our native people.”
“The State of Oklahoma welcomes the Department of Justice’s focus on reducing violence in Indian Country,” said Lisa J. Billy, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Native American Affairs. “These resources represent a meaningful investment in ensuring safety for vulnerable members of native communities in our state. I am grateful to the U.S. Attorneys for their commitment to Indian Country.”