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In the Great Plains, dozens of cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women go unsolved

Intense media and public attention to the Gabby Petito case spurred questions about how Missing and Murdered Indigenous People's investigations are handled by comparison.

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Anyone present at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s rally on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, had the chance to add a white handprint to the side of this wigwam in honor of a loved one who was missing or had been murdered. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

ST. PAUL — News of Gabby Petito 's disappearance and death last month resounded around the world, quickly picking up media and police investigators' attention.

But the intense public interest and scrutiny also fueled frustrations from relatives who've lost an Indigenous relative or who investigate MMIW cases about the lack of media attention and investigative resources spent on most MMIW cases.

In 2019, a team of Forum Communications reporters in 2019 set out to better understand the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in the Great Plains and to shed light on the efforts to investigate the cases of Indigenous women and girls.

The results showed that dozens of women and girls around the region had been reported missing or killed and their cases left unsolved. The crisis has been linked to natural resource extraction on or near reservations, jurisdictional disputes between local, state, tribal and federal authorities, a convoluted justice system that doesn't always hold non-Native perpetrators accountable, insufficient law enforcement in often remote Indian Country, and longstanding struggles with poverty on reservations.

And while policymakers at the state and federal levels have opened offices dedicated to investigating these cases or keeping better data about the missing women, dozens of cases have yet to be solved.

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Read the 2020 series here about the disparities in investigating MMIW cases and regional efforts to unearth answers.

READ THE SERIES HERE:

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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