Through ALINA BYKOVA
A Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Task Force (MMIP) found that Indigenous peoples accounted for 21% of homicides in Wyoming, despite making up only 3% of the state’s population.
This grim conclusion is based on data from a report released last week. The document, titled “Missing and Murdered Indigenous People: Statewide Report Wyoming,” was compiled by researchers at the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming using administrative and archival data, analysis media coverage of missing persons and homicide victims; and interviews with stakeholders from the Wind River Indian Reservation.
According to the report, 105 Indigenous people (34 women, 71 men) were victims of homicides between 2000 and 2020, or 21% of homicide victims. Additionally, the report also states that 710 Indigenous people were reported missing between 2011 and 2020.
The report highlighted a number of racial differences for homicides – in particular, that between 2010 and 2019, the homicide rate among Indigenous people was eight times higher than among whites. It was 6.4 times higher for Aboriginal women than for white women. The document also states that only 30 percent of native homicide victims received newspaper coverage, compared to 51 percent of white homicide victims, and that native female homicide victims had the least coverage in the media. newspapers, just 18 percent.
Emily Grant, a researcher at the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center, believes the number of Indigenous homicide victims may be even higher than what has been reported, but the data could be flawed due to misclassification of victims by coroners.
âA lot of times it’s not necessarily verified with people in the community or a family member or something like that,â Grant said in a press release. “So it’s very likely that they could be misclassified as Latino, White.”
Grant also noted that media coverage of cases involving Indigenous homicide victims is unnecessarily graphic.
“It’s too graphic,” she said. “So you know if [a white person] dies with guns, you know, they can say âgunshot woundâ. But in native cases, we see very graphic representations of the body from the crime scene. ”
The Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center report also found that newspaper articles covering Indigenous homicide victims were more likely to “contain violent language, portray the victim in a negative light, and provide less information than articles on white homicide victims â.
“To be seen as less than is unacceptable,” said Fort Washakie representative and North Arapaho citizen Andi Clifford, who sits on the state’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples task force, in a statement. “The media has to do a better job. He’s someone’s son, he’s someone’s daughter, he’s someone’s father. They were loved.”
The report calls for more training in law enforcement, the development of “consistent data protocols and systems for MMIPs” and stresses that special attention should be paid to documenting tribal affiliation on file. official, coroner’s reports and vital records, as well as for additional information. support for families to guide them through the âcomplex web of jurisdictionsâ as they navigate the reporting and investigation processes. It also calls for the need to “sensitize the community to the prevalence of MMIP, the contributing risk and protective factors, and the resources available”.
The study found that between 2011 and 2019, Indigenous peoples were missing in 22 of Wyoming’s 23 counties. There are currently nine missing Indigenous people in the state.
However, MMIP is an issue that is not just limited to Wyoming. Indigenous peoples in the United States and other countries are at higher risk of violence than other demographic groups.
The report indicates that in the United States, four in five Indigenous people have been victims of violence and that Indigenous women are more likely to be victims of violence than any other demographic group.
âOf those who have experienced violence, 97 percent of women and 90 percent of men have been victims of violence perpetrated by someone who was not indigenous,â the report said.
The document also indicates that homicide is the third leading cause of death among Indigenous men and women aged 1 to 19, the fifth leading cause of death for Indigenous men aged 20 to 44, and the sixth leading cause of death. for indigenous women. in the same age group.
The report says inconsistent data and reporting issues are common when it comes to tracking missing cases involving indigenous peoples.
In November 2019, the Trump administration created a Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaskan Natives called Operation Lady Justice, which will work on the crisis until fall 2021.
âIn its first year, the task force, also known as Operation Lady Justice (OLJ), held over 15 in-person and remote meetings with tribes, individuals and stakeholder groups. , and established and convened 10 working groups to deal with specific mandates of the Executive Decree, including developing protocols, resolving unresolved cases, and broadening awareness and awareness, âsaid the Minister. working group in a December 2020 press release.
The Office of Indian Affairs has opened seven divisions across the country in an effort to help deal with the crisis.
“Native Americans and Alaska Natives experience some of the highest rates of violence in the country, a situation all the more tragic given the generations of trauma already suffered by Native peoples,” the prosecutor said. General Barr in the press release. âDespite the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented challenges it posed, the Task Force continued to move forward with the appropriate urgency to diagnose the symptoms of this intractable problem. They called for the help and contribution of tribal leaders and tribal communities to develop lasting protocols that will lead to the long-term resolutions that tribal communities need and deserve.
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