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Indigenous Groups Criticize Presidential Task Force On MMIW

Olivia Reingold
Yellowstone Public Radio

Nearly 30 Indigenous advocacy groups are condemning the work of a presidential task force on missing and murdered Indigenous person cases.

On National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day, the groups issued a statement on Operation Lady Justice (OLJ), claiming the presidential task force established in 2019 has been, “continuously inflict[ing] harm on MMIWG and MMIP families and show[ing] disrespect to the movement.”

The statement says no significant outreach was done to engage with impacted families and grassroots advocates, an inadequate number of task force listening sessions were scheduled and that families and participants were required to pay their own travel expenses despite some sessions taking place only in-person and over a 12-hour drive away.

Annita Lucchesi is the executive founding director of Sovereign Bodies Institute, an Indigenous-led research nonprofit that maintains a large database of missing and murdered Indigenous people in Canada, the U.S. and Latin America.

Lucchesi was a guest Wednesday on a panel providing updates on the case of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, a Crow and Northern Cheyenne teenager whose body was found in Hardin in 2013.

“But it's frustrating that every year we mark this day and every year families are in the same boat, they were the year before. And that's just unacceptable. There's something critically wrong with our justice system if families of missing and murdered Native people are in the same position they were a year ago, or two years ago, some even five to 10 years ago,” Lucchesi says.

Advocacy groups say no meaningful action has come of the federal cold case review teams created in November 2019 and MMIP family members and advocates have not yet been provided a point of contact with the task force.

The White House issued astatement Wednesday committing to allocate more resources and work with tribal nations to address the MMIP crisis. The Biden Administration has not publicly responded to the statement.

Copyright 2021 Yellowstone Public Radio

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