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Documentary Focuses On Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women

A sign from a Jan. 9, 2019 missing and murdered Indigenous women vigil in Missoula.
Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio
A sign from a Jan. 9, 2019 missing and murdered Indigenous women vigil in Missoula.

A documentary debuting this fall will attempt to show how the high rate of missing and murdered indigenous women is impacting tribes, families and communities in Montana. The film is aimed at calling policy makers to action.

The documentary crew has been filming on four reservations throughout Montana and expects to add more.

The film is funded by the Blackfeet Nation. Tribal Business Council Chairman Timothy Davis says the documentary will advocate for more federal resources and collaboration between tribal, state and federal law enforcement.

"Evidence found, how are we pursuing this, are we getting close, do we have any leads, that type of stuff. Just not being in the dark. We want to be out front," Davis says.

The tribe asked the Global Indigenous Council to create the documentary.

Tom Rodgers is the acting president of the social justice advocacy group for Natives in the U.S. and Canada. Rodgers says the short film will specifically cover the lack of financial resources that comes with legislation regarding missing and murdered indigenous women and underlying issues like poverty and drug addiction.

"They’ll show it to different senators, different congress people, different officials in a public policy environment, and once again, that will stimulate them to action We don’t want any more words. Words are empty. That’s what we’re focusing on is a call to action."

Rodgers says legislation passed in Montana earlier this year does address some issues, but says it isn’t nearly enough. He hopes the film will help similar legislation in the U.S. Congress gain traction.

The tribe is scheduled to premiere the film at the National Museum of the American Indian in November during a two-day festival highlighting the Blackfeet Nation. The tribe is also planning what is being called the first missing and murdered indigenous women tribunal in the U.S. for October.

Members of Congress, 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and the Trump Administration are invited to make remarks about actions being taken at the federal level.

According to testimony given to state lawmakers last year, Native American women make up 30 percent of missing persons in Montana.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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