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State updates Missing and Murdered Indigenous numbers but context is missing

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person march 2022 on the Wind River Reservation.
Taylar Stagner
Wyoming Public Radio
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person march 2022 on the Wind River Reservation.

In 2020, the state came out with a report analyzing contributing factors in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP) movement. This week during the tribal committee meeting before the Wyoming legislature, an update was given by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center.

So far, in 2022 and 2021, there were around 40 homicides and three of which were Indigenous in the state. As for missing people over the same time frame, there were around 100 missing Indigenous people, including minors running away from home.

Emily Grant, a senior researcher on the project, said they accounted for unique missing cases and repeat people appearing in the research.

“In 2021, American Indian Alaskan natives represented 17 percent of the cases, as we know the population is about three percent,” she said. “So, when we see something that's higher than that, that is a disproportionate number. In 2022, so far, it's 16 percent. So pretty steady there.”

Grant said it’s good they are updating the numbers but the report is missing context.

“The real context involves going and speaking with people in the community, the people that are you know, responding to these issues, their families themselves and getting more of this information. And that is the part that is missing from this update,” she said.

Grant said they had sent out surveys to 90 law enforcement entities in the state to get a better idea of protocol in regards to missing people, and only 22 had responded. They were given around two weeks, and three emailed reminders.

The full update from the report will be released in January of next year.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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