OKMULGEE, Okla. – The Muscogee Nation Center for Victim Services walked through the MCN Complex on May 5 to honor, remember and raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. On the same day, the U.S. Department of Justice proclaimed the day as National MMIP Awareness Day.
The statement from the U.S. Department of Justice details the recognition of the day, as well as statistics on the MMIP crisis.
“Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day calls on our nation to pause and honor the loved ones who have gone missing or who have been the victims of violent crime,” U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in the proclamation.
According to MCN CVS Health and Wellness Coordinator Morgan James, spreading awareness is important when it comes to MMIP.
MCN works closely with MMIP chapters across the state to spread awareness.
President Biden released a proclamation the day prior.
“Indian Country has been gripped by an epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous people, whose cases far too often go unsolved,” President Biden stated. “Families have been left investigating disappearances on their own, demanding justice for their loved ones, and grieving pieces of their souls.”
The proclamation outlined the work his administration has done on the issue, with a big credit going toward U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Harland for her role.
The proclamation follows the two-year anniversary of Haaland’s announcement of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Missing and Murdered Unit, which was developed to focus specifically on cases involving Native American victims.
In 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System did not accurately reflect the amount of reports made. Only 116 individuals had been logged into the NamUS.
These numbers shed a light on the crisis Native women face across the United States. This later opened the door for awareness on the numbers of Native men who have either gone missing or have been murdered.
This defined the problem as a public health crisis.
In 2021, U.S. District Attorney Trent Shores disclosed information on Mvskoke Radio stating that in Oklahoma there are more cases of missing Native men than women.
According to the BIA website, current statistics show that approximately 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native missing persons have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) throughout the U.S. Approximately 2,700 cases of murder and nonnegligent homicide offenses have been reported to the federal government’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.
The BIA estimates that there are approximately 4,200 missing and murdered cases that have gone unsolved.
MMIP cases can be viewed on the BIA website.
These cases remain unsolved due to the lack of available resources for local law enforcement agencies. This includes investigative resources to identify new information from witness testimony, re-examining new or retained material evidence, as well as reviewing fresh activities of suspects.
The first congressional resolution to declare May 5 as MMIP Day was issued in 2017. The date of May 5 was selected after the Montana congressional delegation persuaded the U.S. Senate to pass a resolution declaring the national day of awareness to honor the birthday of Hanna Harris, a 21-year-old member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe who went missing on July 4, 2013 and never returned home.
For more information regarding MMIP awareness, visit www.bia.gov.