MTPR

Missing and Murdered Indigneous Women

Rep. Sharon Stewart Peregoy (D) Crow Agency
Montana Legislature

The fate of two bills that could change the way Montana investigates and studies missing persons, especially in cases involving indigenous people, have been chained together in the political shuffle of the legislative session.

Senate lawmakers Tuesday restored previously cut funding for the bill known as Hanna’s Act, named for a woman murdered in 2013 on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

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

Proponents of a proposed Montana bill meant to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women said Monday they now believe that it has been amended to become toothless.

As originally drafted, Hanna’s Act would have directed the state Department of Justice to hire a missing persons specialist to coordinate with local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement on cases. The idea being to improve response times by smoothing over jurisdictional issues.

It's been a busy week at the Montana Legislature. Medicaid expansion and a bill to help NorthWestern Energy acquire more coal are still alive; A bill to fund preschool education is killed; And a bill to help find missing and murdered Native American women is passed, then killed, then revived. Learn more now on Capitol Talk with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

A piece of legislation intended to aid the investigation of missing indigenous people stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, but supporters aren’t giving up just yet.

Marita Growing Thunder (right) and an un-named person walking across the Flathead Reservation to raise awareness of missing and murdered indiginous women, March 28, 2019.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

Advocates of missing and murdered indigenous women set off on a four-day trek in northwest Montana Thursday to raise awareness for the disproportionate rates of violence against Native women and girls. 

On asphalt and mud, grass and gravel, they walk.

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