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2024 Montana Primary elections
Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana's missing persons task force hasn't met since last summer

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.

Montana’s Missing Persons Task Force has not met since last summer despite the Legislature funding the group for the next decade.

State lawmakers last year passed two bills carried by Montana’s American Indian Caucus to help missing and murdered people in Montana. But the DOJ did not hire a coordinator for the task force until this month, and has not spent any of the funding allocated for training local search and rescue groups.

According to 2023 state data, Indigenous people make up nearly 7 % of the population and make up a quarter of Montana’s missing persons cases.

In a statement to MTPR, a spokesperson for the DOJ said they are in the process of appointing members to the missing persons task force, now that they have hired a coordinator and are reaching out to tribes about getting representatives. MTPR has confirmed several tribes are in the nomination process.

An interim group of lawmakers is scheduled to hear updates on this legislation this week.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
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