Montana Now Has a Missing Indigenous Persons Reporting Portal
It's incredibly sad that we need this, but also a great relief for many Indigenous Montana families who are missing loved ones. Blackfeet Community College in Browning has teamed up with the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force to launch a new website where families can list loved ones as missing. You might wonder why they don't just call the police. The answer is not an easy one, but know that sometimes they do make a report with the police, other times families are reluctant to ask law enforcement for help, for a variety of reasons.
When loved ones of missing people land at the website, there's a very simple form to fill out to have their missing person added to a data base. This triggers an automatic notice that is sent to local tribal law enforcement. Then, volunteers from Blackfeet Community College provide support to the family while working with law enforcement. So the website and associated groups are kind of a "go-between" for the family and law enforcement. Please note that this website and these services are available to all Tribal Nations, not just Blackfeet.
MMIP Montana started when the Browning community joined together to search for Ashley Loring HeavyRunner in the summer of 2017. This is when it became apparent that many of Montana's Indigenous families and communities had been unsuccessful in their own searches for missing tribal members, and unsuccessful in finding any help, or answers.
DOJ offered a grant to Tribal Colleges in Montana. It's purpose was to link local communities on reservations to a database and reporting portal for MMIP. We realized it was this was a huge part of the work we had started at Blackfeet Community College years before. We secured $25,000 of funding in the fall of 2020 and began our work to revamp the website and make it easier to report missing persons cases in the Blackfeet Nation.
I know from my own family's experiences of not finding help or answers for our murdered Indigenous women, that the work that all of these wonderful, caring organizers and volunteers have put into launching this portal is more appreciated than anyone can even put into words. It's my sincere hope that this portal is a step closer to bringing awareness to all Montanans, and to bringing some peace to Indigenous families.