With half of Montana’s tribal governments connected to a state database for reporting missing Native people, a task force voted Monday to make funding available for the other four tribes to join.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force voted to make a total of $25,000 available to the Crow Tribe, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Chippewa Cree Tribe.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Blackfeet Nation, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes and the Fort Belknap Indian Community received a collective $25,000 under the previous round of funding from the state grant program. A total of $50,000 was authorized by the Legislature in 2021.
The task force was created in 2019 in response to growing recognition that Native people go missing and are victims of homicide at a much higher rate than other Montana residents. The Legislature also created the grant program that year, called Looping In Native Communities (LINC), and initially funded it with $25,000 to create a system for reporting and tracking cases of missing Indigenous people in Montana.
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The 2019 grant, awarded to Blackfeet Community College, helped pay the costs of setting up that system. Unveiled in 2020, the mmipmt.com website serves as a portal for families and friends who aren’t comfortable dealing with law enforcement to report missing people. It also allows visitors to view active cases that have been reported through the website.
Last year, the Legislature reauthorized the grant program with $50,000 to cover the costs of connecting each of the state’s eight tribes to the database. The noncompetitive grants provide $6,250 to each tribe that applies and provides a one-to-one funding match.
The task force is required to submit a report containing its findings and recommendations to the State-Tribal Relations Committee by July 1.