- By Elyse Wild
The Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Anchorage Police Department (APD) have released the state’s first quarterly Missing Indigenous Persons Report.
The 13-page report includes information on people who are Alaska Native, American Indian or of an unknown race who were reported missing in Alaska as of July 14, 2023, and whose cases are being investigated by the DPS and APD.
Along with race, sex, and date of last contact, cases in the report are categorized by circumstance, including “suspicious,” “not suspicious,” “environmental,” or “unknown.” According to a statement from the DPS, each case was reviewed by DPS and ADP to determine the circumstance.
The report shows that from April 1, 2023, to June 30, 2023, 199 people who are Alaska Native, American Indian, or of unknown race were reported missing, with 174 located during that same time period.
“We hope that with DPS and APD having information at their fingertips, that we see it translate into meaningful action,” Charlene Apok, Executive Director of Data for Indigenous Justice, told Alaska’s News Source.
The report, according to the DPS, is a result of the state’s People First Initiative, a working group launched in 2021 to focus on five policy areas that affect Alaskans, including the MMIP crisis.Earlier this year, DPS added additional data points to the Alaska Missing Persons Clearinghouse, a public database meant to track all missing persons cases reported in Alaska. The new data points include the race and sex of every person listed in the Clearinghouse, which allows for users to see how many Alaska Natives are missing statewide.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Native women living on reservations are murdered at a rate ten times higher than the national average. Layered jurisdiction, lack of collaboration between law enforcement bodies, and systemic apathy have led to thousands of unsolved cases in Indian Country. The Bureau of Indian Affairs estimates there are 4,200 unsolved MMIP cases.
According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, Alaska is among the ten states with the highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous people.
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