U.S. Sen. Steve Daines has requested a Montana field hearing on missing and murdered Indigenous people.
In a letter addressed to the chairman and vice chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, Daines, a Montana Republican, encourages the committee to continue the “important attention to the epidemic of American Indians and Alaskan Natives who go missing each year.”
Daines stated that while the committee held an oversight hearing in December 2018, many questions are still unanswered and more Indigenous people have gone missing, especially in the Northern Rockies region.
Daines asked Chairman John Hoeven and Vice Chairman Tom Udall to bring the Committee’s work to Montana and hold a field hearing as soon as possible so lawmakers can hear directly from families and tribal members on the ground.
In the letter, Daines asks that May 5 be designated each year as a National Day of Awareness in honor of Hanna Harris’s birthday. Harris was a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe who went missing and was later found murdered in 2013.
Daines wrote the crisis also crosses gender lines as Matthew Grant’s family still awaits resolution to his murder.
“We asked many important questions of the federal agencies during the hearing in December including what protocol the agencies use when there is a missing person’s report, how agencies respond to initial reports, and how the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Bureau of Investigations are working to better communicate with families affected by the epidemic,” Daines stated. “These questions and more still need answers.”
Daines then writes that holding a formal Committee hearing in Montana would be an important next step.