The U.S. Marshals Service is teaming up with a Native American tribe based in Northern California for a new push aimed at addressing the cases of missing and murdered Native Americans, a growing crisis the tribes say is not she has received a lot of attention.
The Yurok Tribe has been selected as the first pilot site for the federal agency’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Initiative (MMIP), which is part of the Justice Department’s efforts to address disproportionately high rates of violence against Native Americans, including Indigenous people, their website. say.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs, a federal agency dedicated to improving life for Native Americans, estimates that there are more than 4,200 cases of missing persons and unsolved murders. The agency lists many of the cases and photos of the missing persons on its website. But despite the numbers, cases involving Native people have largely gone under the radar and advocates are pushing for additional dedicated law enforcement resources and news media attention to the crisis, CNN previously reported.
Authorities say they have long faced several challenges that have prevented them from solving cases. Police say in some cases it’s family-on-family crime and relatives refuse to provide information because they don’t want the person responsible to go to jail. In other cases, evidence is limited, CNN previously reported. Tribal communities usually do not have doorbell cameras or external security cameras that help police investigate cases in urban or suburban areas.
As part of the partnership with the Yurok Tribe, announced Tuesday, the tribe and USMS will collaborate “to share information, identify goals, and develop strategies to improve public safety for the Yurok Tribe, its members, and the general public,” the USMS said in a press release.
The Yurok Tribe is currently the largest tribe in California with more than 5,000 members, according to the tribe’s website. The tribe has been a leader in the fight against the crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans and asking for programs to prevent future cases.
“The Yurok Tribe is extremely grateful to partner with the US Marshals Service on this important and timely initiative,” Joseph L. James, chairman of the Yurok Tribe, said in a statement. “The knowledge and tools we will gain from this unique partnership will greatly increase our ability to keep our community safe.”
In January, the tribe received a $350,000 grant from the San Manuel Mission Indians to hire a full-time investigator for ongoing cold cases involving missing and murdered Native people, according to CNN affiliate KRCR. Tribal leaders recently requested $200 million dollars from the state government to fight the crisis, KRCR reported.
The crisis spurred the FBI into action, enlisting the intelligence resources of the agency best known for fighting crime and terrorism to create a master database last year of missing Native Americans in New Mexico and the Navacho Nation, CNN reported before this.
The database – which includes photographs of missing persons along with their age, gender and date of last contact – has been praised by advocates who argue that the cases of Native Americans are not getting the attention police deserve. missing and murdered, CNN reported. .
The issue has also drawn the attention of President Joe Biden’s administration, which has introduced several initiatives to address violence against Native Americans including a new unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to investigate the cases and coordinate resources among agencies. federal and Indian country. .
Members of the Yurok tribe and USMS met recently to discuss the partnership and the potential to work together on a wide range of activities — depending on the tribe’s priorities, the release said.
Targeted areas may include training on missing child investigations, data analysis, public outreach, sex offender registration and enforcement as well as investigative support for tribal law enforcement officers, the release states.
“It is my sincere hope that by dedicating resources in Indian Country and partnering with the Yurok Tribe, the US Marshals will help address the problem of missing children from the Yurok Tribe and assist with public safety initiatives others, such as ensuring that there will be registered sex offenders. The area meets their statutory requirements,” U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald L. Davis said in a statement.
“We are fully committed to supporting the Yurok Tribe’s efforts to keep their communities safe,” he said.