facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1
 Today, Utah lawmakers Senator David Hinkins (R) and Representative Angela Romero (D) addressed the findings of a special report  on the state’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) crisis. 

Native Americans in Utah face a disproportionately high risk of violence, murder, or disappearance, constituting over 5% of all murder victims despite making up only 1.5% of the population. 

In 2020, the Utah Legislature introduced the MMIR Task Force to address the crisis and explore solutions. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

At a press conference held today at the Utah State Capitol Building introducing the report, Hinkins, who co-chairs the MMIR Task Force with Romero, told reporters, “The goal is to not have this happen. We want to ensure our citizens are safe, whether on the reservation or in Salt Lake.”

The 130-page special report released today was compiled by nonprofit and evaluation research group Wilder Research, Native-led advocacy group Restoring Ancestral Winds and a retried FBI missing persons investigator.

Findings result from interviews with key informants and listening sessions with family members of MMIR victims and community members in Utah, an inspection of existing federal and state legislation, and a review of relevant research literature. The report examines the extent of the disparities driving the state’s MMIR crisis and addresses nine key issues, including: 

  • Reporting and initial investigation of missing person cases 
  • Communication and alert systems 
  • Review and investigation of unresolved (“cold”) cases 
  • Death investigation 
  •  Jurisdiction issues and government-to-government collaboration 
  • Data issues 
  •  Victim and family services 
  • Prevention 
  • Media reporting

As well, the report includes recommendations for addressing the crisis, including creating guidance and model protocols for best law enforcement missing person response policies and procedures across jurisdictions; expanding cold case resources; and increasing access to culturally appropriate victim’s services resources. 

Tamra Borchardt-Slayton, Tribal Council Member of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah and member of the MMIR Task Force, spoke to the prevalence of the MMIR crisis in Indian Country and the lack of awareness of it outside of Native communities. 

“Being a part of this has been a long ride,” Borchardt-Slayton said. “... This epidemic is something that isn’t discussed openly. It isn’t on the front page of every newspaper, and it should be.” 

“We need justice for the victims and their families. There are things we deal with in our communities that aren’t often discussed and should be. We all have a story like this. I have a story like this.” 

The Utah report comes on the heels of a report issued by the Not Invisible Act Commission urging the federal government to take recommended steps to combat the MMIR crisis nationwide. 


More Stories Like This

Native Artist and Former Cultural Advisor to the Chicago Blackhawks Sues Team for Sexual Harassment, Fraud
First Lady Jill Biden 'Shows Up' in Indian Country
National Indian Gaming Commission Announces Sharon Avery as Acting Chair
The Jicarilla Apache Nation Mourns the Passing of President Edward Velarde
Genealogy, Elite Clubs Focus of 88-year-old

These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

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.