By StrongHearts Native Helpline
For far too long, Indian country has pleaded for ways to address the critical issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. StrongHearts Native Helpline understands that MMIW is often intertwined with domestic, dating, sexual violence. When an Indigenous woman goes missing or is found murdered, her story rarely gets the full attention of law enforcement, media or the public. As a result, those cases are not fully investigated and remain unsolved. Cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are also further complicated by system barriers, such as improper data collection, confusion over jurisdiction, scarcity of resources and a lack of protocol for responding to such cases. Our relatives deserve better.
Missing and Murdered Unit
Deb Haaland, a citizen of Laguna Pueblo, was sworn in as Secretary of the Interior on March 16, 2021. She is the first Native American cabinet secretary in U.S. history.
On April 1, Secretary Haaland identified violence against Indigenous peoples as a crisis that has been underfunded for decades. Recognizing that far too often murders and missing persons cases go unsolved and unaddressed, she announced the formation of a new Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS).
According to Secretary Haaland, the new MMU will provide the resources and leadership to prioritize these cases and coordinate resources to hold people accountable, keep our communities safe and provide closure for families whose loved ones have either gone missing or murder cases gone cold.
The Unit is responsible for:
- Gathering intelligence on active missing and murdered cases
- Reviewing and prioritizing cases for assignment to investigative teams
- Developing investigative plans to guide investigators
- Identify any outside resources that could benefit their investigative efforts and coordinating those resources with their investigative team
- Management of the tips submitted to Tip411, the Cold Case email and 1-800 line
- Assigning and investigating cases
- Coordinating with other stakeholders
- Preparing investigative reports
- Analyzing current missing-person protocols and
- Developing missing-person response guidelines.
Current Missing & Murdered Unit offices established by Indian Affairs through BIA OJS are at the following locations:
Bloomington, Minn. (BIA OJS Office)
Billings, Mont. (BIA OJS Office)
Nashville, Tenn. (BIA OJS Office)
Rapid City, S.D. (BIA OJS Office)
Albuquerque, N.M. (BIA OJS Office)
Phoenix, Ariz. (co-located with the Gila River Tribal Police)
Anchorage, Alaska (BIA Regional Office)
OJS Missing & Murdered Unit Oversees the Following:
Missing & Murdered Unit Email
Do you have information that could help investigators? Submit an anonymous tip via Tip411. Text keyword BIACCU and your tip to 847411. Request help from OJS MMU by sending an email to OJS_ColdCase@bia.gov (link sends e-mail) or call 1-833-560-2065.
StrongHearts Native Helpline is a 24/7 culturally-appropriate domestic, dating and sexual violence helpline for Native Americans, available by calling or texting 1-844-762-8483 or clicking on the chat icon on Strongheartshelpline.org.