Attorney General Knudsen Announces Appointments to the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force
HELENA – Attorney General Austin Knudsen today announced appointments to the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force. The task force’s main goals are to break down jurisdictional barriers and identify causes that contribute to missing and murdered Indigenous persons.
During the 2021 legislative session, Knudsen supported Representative Sharon Stewart-Peregoy’s House Bill 98 to extend the task force for two more years beyond its original June 30, 2021 sunset date. The taskforce is also charged with finding ways to improve collaboration among law enforcement agencies, reporting and tracking data, creating a network of communication among tribal communities, and administering the Looping in Native Communities grant program.
“The Montana Department of Justice is committed to fighting the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people and holding the perpetrators accountable,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “We are grateful for the time and energy of the task force members in carrying out this mission.”
The following individuals were appointed or reappointed to the task force:
Tina Bierle, representing the Fort Belknap Indian Community
Ellie Bundy, representing the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes
Jared Cobell, representing the U.S. Attorney’s Office
Alan Doane, representing the Attorney General’s Office
Valerie Falls Down, representing the Crow Tribe
Brian Frost, representing the Montana Department of Justice
Patt Iron Clouds Runs Through, representing the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes
Iris Kill Eagle, representing the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe
Jody LaMere, representing the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation
Dr. Alan Ostby, representing the Indian Health Service
Mark Pollock, representing the Blackfeet Nation
Theresa Small, representing the Northern Cheyenne Tribe
Derek Werner, representing the Montana Highway Patrol
Attorney General Knudsen with Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force members
Attorney General Knudsen is committed to reducing the number of missing and murdered Indigenous persons, fighting human trafficking, and holding perpetrators accountable. Native American women and girls are the most susceptible group to human trafficking. According to federal statistics, they account for less than 4 percent of Montana’s population, but account for up to 40 percent of human and sex trafficking victims in the state.
“The statistics are devastating, but they only represent the scope of the crisis,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “They do not tell the story of the individuals who are lost or the pain and grief felt by families, friends, and communities.”
Knudsen also supported Stewart-Peregoy’s House Bill 35, which establishes the Missing Indigenous Persons Review Commission that will educate the public, law enforcement, and policymakers about missing Indigenous persons and strategies for investigation.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice also helped launch the Sentinel Project, a public-private partnership to help address human trafficking in Montana.