Wyoming Task Force To Study Missing and Murdered Indigenous People

Jul 19, 2019

Governor Mark Gordon speaks at a march for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Credit Not Our Native Daughters

Tribal liaisons, members of law enforcement, and the state Attorney General will convene for the first time on Wednesday, July 24, to study the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.

Governor Mark Gordon committed to creating the task force in April after hearing personal stories of loss at a march for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls at the University of Wyoming.

In an announcement this week, he said the group will examine issues that prevent some violent crimes committed on the Wind River Reservation from being prosecuted.

"The Wind River Reservation operates under a separate criminal justice jurisdictional scheme - but Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribal members are also citizens of Wyoming," he said. "I am committed to working with our federal and tribal partners to ensure the safety of our Native American communities."

Leslie Shakespeare, Vice Chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, said he hopes the task force can foster a more trusting relationship between tribal members and law enforcement.

"It's about having that education piece, saying it's okay to report those things and having confidence that it will be investigated. That way we don't have a large number of these incidents happening," Shakespeare said.

The task force's two in-person meetings on July 24 and August 7 are open to public participation. It will also present to the State Legislature's Select Tribal Relations Committee at its August 19-20 hearing in Fort Washakie.