GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Federal, State, Local and Tribal leaders jointly announced Michigan’s own Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons pilot project today.
Members of the pilot project began meeting in late October, taking the first steps toward establishing the first tribal community response plans for missing indigenous persons cases. The plans will improve the handling of emergent missing person cases by outlining how Tribal governments, law enforcement, and other partners can best work together to respond to such cases.
“Given that there are 12 Tribal communities in Michigan, and many more Tribal members living throughout the state, we adopted a pilot-program approach to help identify issues and establish initial response plans that can be shared with communities throughout the state,” explained U.S. Attorney Birge.
“Bay Mills is excited to collaborate with the United States and our fellow tribes on protecting women and vulnerable people in our communities,” said Bryan Newland, President of the Bay Mills Indian Community. “For too long, we have allowed the problem of violence against Indian women and vulnerable people to fester. This initiative will start the healing process and ensure that our people receive the protections they deserve.”
Dr. Aaron Payment, Tribal Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, noted: “In 2016, according to the CDC, homicide was the third leading cause of death for Native women and girls between the ages 1-19 and sixth leading cause of death for ages 20-44. Time is of essence as the first 72 hours after an individual goes missing are the most crucial according to National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center”.
Michigan is among the first of six pilot-program states developing community response plans according to the Department of Justice, in accord with the U.S. Attorney General’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative and the President’s Operation Lady Justice Task Force.