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Montana Attorney General announced last week new appointments to the state’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Task Force. Established in 2019, the task force joins tribal, state, and federal leaders to identify jurisdictional barriers and gaps that drive the MMIP crisis.

The MMIP crisis is prevalent across the country, with Indigenous peoples being murdered at a rate ten times the national average. Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for Native women. While the Bureau of Indian Affairs estimates there are 4,200 unsolved MMIP cases, the actual number is likely higher, Native advocates say.  According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, Montana ranks among the top states for the highest number of MMIP cases per capita, with Native Americans making up 6.7% of the state’s population and 27% of its missing people.

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In 2023, the Montana legislature passed a bill extending the task force for ten years and supporting the staffing of a full-time program coordinator. Before the bill, the task force was up for termination or renewal every two years. In April this year, the Montana Department of Justice hired former law enforcement officer and search and rescue coordinator Justin Kambic as the task force’s coordinator.

Among the new appointments to the task force is Haley Omeasoo, a citizen of the Hopi Tribe and a Blackfeet descendant and founder of Ohkomi Forensics, which provides forensic services to Indigenous families and communities affected by the crisis.

Omeassoo wrote in an email to Native News Online that she is grateful to have a seat at the table and hopes her expertise in forensics will help lower the number of unsolved MMIP cases throughout the state.

“A task as huge as the MMIP crisis, I truly believe, will take a team effort, so I am very excited to be serving alongside this incredible group of people who all show their passion for combating this issue,” Omeassoo wrote. “I want to personally thank our MMIP Task Force coordinator, Justin Kambic, for all the great work he has done thus far and for taking a chance on me and Ohkomi Forensics. We look forward to all that is to come from serving on this task force and appreciate everyone’s support during this time.”

The remaining appointments to the task force include:

  • Alan Doane, representing the Montana Attorney General’s Office. Doane previously served as a state representative. 
  • Yolanda Fraser, representing the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Fraser’s 18-year-old granddaughter, Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, was found dead in Hardin in 2019. Fraser founded Pretty Eaglewoman Resource Foundation to bring awareness to the crisis. 
  • Brian Frost, missing persons specialist for the Montana Department of Justice.
  • Stacie FourStar, Chief Judge of the Fort Peck Tribal Court. In 2022, she won the Karla M. Gray Equal Justice Award for her advocacy. 
  • Crystal Hickman, representing the Montana Office of Public Instruction. Hickman is a citizen of the Crow Tribe and of Northern Cheyenne descent. She serves as the American Indian student achievement specialist within OPI. 
  • Cheryl Horn, representing Fort Belknap Indian Community. Horn’s niece Selena Not Afraid, 16, went missing and was found dead in Big Horn County in 2020.
  • Iris Kill Eagle, councilwoman for the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana.
  • Danielle Matt, representing the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes. Matt’s niece Jermain Charlo, 23, went missing in 2018 and has not been found. 
  • Amanda Myers, representing the United States Attorney’s Office.
  • Alan Ostby, representing the Indian Health Service. Ostby is a licensed clinical psychologist for the Yellowstone Counseling Center.
  • Derek Werner of Poplar will represent the Montana Highway Patrol.
  • Jonathan Windy Boy, representing the Chippewa Cree Tribe. Windy Boy has served in the state Legislature for more than 20 years. 
  • Sarah Wolftail, representing the Blackfeet Nation. Wolftail was among a group of 14 law enforcement professionals who were honored for investigating Stanley Patrick Weber, a former pediatrician who was convicted of sexually abusing boys in the 1990s on the Blackfeet Reservation.

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About The Author
Author: Elyse WildEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Elyse Wild is senior editor for Native News Online and Tribal Business News.