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Members of new state missing Indigenous persons task force announced

Posted at 10:23 AM, Jun 06, 2019
MMIW Task Force
The members of a new state Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force have been announced. (MTN News file photo)

HELENA – The members of a new state Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force have been announced.

Senate Bill 312, or the Looping in Native Communities (LINC) Act, created a missing indigenous persons task force that includes a representative from each tribal government on Montana’s seven reservations and the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe.

By statute, members must also include a representative from the Attorney General’s Office; an employee of the Montana Department of Justice (DOJ) who has expertise in missing persons; and a member of the Montana Highway Patrol.

“There has been a growing concern across the nation, including here in Montana, about the number of missing and murdered indigenous persons, particularly women and girls,” Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said. “We can and must do more to work together to bring home missing persons from Indian Country.”

Fox added he’s confident members of the Task Force will make positive strides in determining the scope of the issue as well as bring forward good recommendations to increase cooperation among public safety agencies and tribal governments.

The task force members are:

  • Councilman Mark Pollock (Blackfeet Tribe)
  • Councilman Mike Corcoran (Chippewa Cree Tribe)
  • Ellie Bundy (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes)
  • Valerie Falls Down (Crow Tribe)
  • Councilwoman Brandi King (Fort Belknap Indian Community)
  • Councilman Jestin Dupree (Fort Peck Tribes)
  • Councilwoman Iris KillEagle (Little Shell Chippewa Tribe)
  • Brandi Beckman (Northern Cheyenne Tribe)
  • Deputy Attorney General Melissa Schlichting (Attorney General’s Office)
  • Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse Manager Jennifer Viets (Montana DOJ)
  • Sgt. Derek Werner (Montana Highway Patrol)

A press release states the primary duties of the task force include the administration of the LINC Act grant program; identification of jurisdictional barriers among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community agencies; and the identification of ways to improve interagency collaboration to remove jurisdictional barriers and increase reporting and investigation of missing indigenous persons.

The task force will hold its first meeting the afternoon of June 11 in Helena.

The next day, the Montana DOJ and Montana’s U.S. Attorney’s Office will jointly hold a missing persons training at the same Helena location for law enforcement and the public, according to a press release.

Topics include how to report a missing person, the nexus between missing persons and human trafficking, and the use of missing persons alerts and advisories.

The training is free; online registration is available here. Law enforcement officers will receive POST credits for attending.

For more information, email or call DOJ’s Office of Victim Services at 1-800-498-6455 or (406) 444-3653.