Federal Grant To Help Okla. Investigators Search For Missing Native Americans

Monday, December 2nd 2019, 9:15 am
By: Grant Hermes

Oklahoma has a disproportionately high rate of missing or murdered Native Americans and thanks to an executive order signed by President Trump the state will be a part of a nationwide investigation into this troubling problem.

The executive order allows Oklahoma to use grant money awarded to the Department of Justice to hire a federal coordinator to work with investigators who will be tasked with looking into thousands of missing persons reports. Most of the reports are for missing or murdered Native American women.

According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, Oklahoma has the tenth highest number of missing Native American woman in the country. The call to bolster the search for missing Native Americans has been years in the making but has recently come into the spotlight after massive surveys, studies of native populations and passionate testimony from tribal members.

The national crime information center says of the more than 5712 reports of missing or murdered native women made in 2016, only 116 of them were logged into federal databases.

Oklahoma's coordinator will be run out of Tulsa but will work with three U.S. attorneys and 11 states.

"Now is the time for action. For far too long Native Americans and Alaska Natives, especially women, have experienced unacceptably high rates of violence." U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said in a statement about the grant money.

At the state level, Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC) had an interim study done on the number of missing native women and lawmakers have talked about legislation to address violence against Native Americans in the upcoming session