GREAT FALLS — Gov. Greg Gianforte on Thursday, May 5, 2022, renewed his call to protect Native communities and end the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP).
“As I visit reservations across Montana, the MMIP crisis looms large in the hearts and minds of our Native neighbors. Let’s be clear and unequivocal – no Native girl, boy, woman, or man should live in fear,” Gianforte said in a news release. “Today, I join Montanans and Americans in strengthening our resolve to bring the epidemic of MMIP to an end.”
Since 2019, MMIP Awareness Day has been observed in the United States to raise awareness for MMIP.
Partnering with the Legislature’s American Indian Caucus, the governor signed three bills into law last year to enhance the state’s efforts to track data, raise awareness, and strengthen interagency collaboration to protect Montana’s Indigenous persons.
Between 2017 and 2019, more than 25% of Montana’s missing persons were Indigenous despite accounting for about 7% of Montana’s populations. Additionally, nearly 80% of those reported missing were teenagers younger than 18 years of age.
The governor’s proclamation on Thursday established May 5, 2022 as MMIP Awareness Day in Montana:
WHEREAS, Montana is home to the Blackfeet Nation, Chippewa Cree Tribe, Crow Nation, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Fort Belknap Assiniboine & Gros Ventre Tribes, Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes, Little Shell Chippewa Tribe, and Northern Cheyenne Tribe; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans make up approximately 7 percent of Montana’s population, but account for 26 percent of missing persons, and Native American women are murdered at more than ten times the rate of the national average, especially for those ten to thirty-four years of age; and
WHEREAS, the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) has tragically impacted too many families in Montana, with Montana consistently ranking in the top five states for MMIP; and
WHEREAS, MMIP cases often go unreported or can be misclassified due to a mix between lack of information and late reporting; and
WHEREAS, Montana must bring all resources to bear to track data, raise awareness, and strengthen interagency collaboration to protect Montana’s indigenous persons;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Gianforte, Governor of Montana do hereby proclaim May 5, 2022 as MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS PERSONS AWARENESS DAY in Montana to encourage collective action to bring an end to the MMIP crisis.
Misty Kuhl, an A’aniih member of the Fort Belknap Indian Community and the director of the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs, said, “The crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons has far-reaching impacts in our Native communities. Too many grieve a missing or murdered daughter, son, sister, brother, friend, or acquaintance. I urge all Montanans to commit to fighting this tragic trend until it ends.”