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Pilot project to help CSKT tribes address missing person cases

| December 2, 2020 12:00 AM

At a council meeting of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation Tuesday in Pablo, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme and the CSKT Council launched a pilot project to develop a Tribal Community Response Plan that will address missing and murdered indigenous persons cases.

The project aligns with U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Initiative, and the President’s Operation Lady Justice Task Force, and in furtherance of the goals of the recently enacted Savanna’s Act.

The goal is to improve responses to emergent American Indian and Alaska Native missing person cases by establishing a collaborative response from tribal governments, law enforcement and other partners through culturally appropriate guidelines. The U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies developed draft guides to assist in developing response plans with input from tribal leaders, tribal law enforcement and their communities, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The council meeting was also attended by representatives from the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, local law enforcement and community organizations.

Stakeholders plan to complete the response plan by Dec. 11

The goal is to complete this TCRP by Dec. 11 and when finished it will be the first one completed in the country. Lessons learned from the pilot project will be used to improve the draft guides for developing a TCRP before they are released to Tribes across the country.

”Our community worked hard to elevate this issue so it is encouraging to see the effort continue to develop and grow,” said Chairwoman Shelly R. Fyant, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. “We know how important partnerships are and we will continue to collaborate with stakeholders in our community to implement this plan. We remain committed to working hard and applying resources to ensure our people receive justice.”

Working group meetings with representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, CSKT, law enforcement (including the Flathead Tribal Police Department, sheriff's offices for Lake, Missoula, Flathead and Sanders counties, along with the Polson and Ronan police departments) and community organizations will begin next week to develop the the plan, which will include guidelines for law enforcement agencies, victim services, community involvement, and media and public communication.