PABLO — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) are wrapping up a series of meetings forming the basis of a new action plan tackling the issue of missing tribal members.
Leaders are expressing optimism that the new Tribal Community Response Plan (TCRP) will be an important tool for not only finding those who've vanished but also preventing other disappearances.
The US Department of Justice announced last week that the Tribe would be the first in the country to develop the plans to tackle the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons.
DOJ helped facilitate those meetings over the past couple of days, helping the tribe to establish reporting and response protocols in conjunction with other local law enforcement, state and federal agencies here in Western Montana.
But tribal leaders tell MTN News the TCRP will also be extremely valuable when tracking the missing outside the state, customizing the federal guidelines to match CSKT's jurisdiction and culture.
“We have cases that go down into Arizona. We have cases that have been in North Dakota, Spokane, WA, Seattle, WA. They go all over and sometimes there's a tribal agency,” Flathead Tribal Police Chief Craige Couture said.
“When you call some of these other agencies, they don't always listen to you,” he continued. “I think this is an opportunity here to be able to be taken seriously when we make those original phone calls.”
“The beauty of the guides is there just simply that in each tribe can Personalize them based on their culture and their resources,” CSKT Tribal Chairwoman Shelly Fyant told MTN News.
DOJ plans to eventually work with all of Montana's tribes on their own response plans.