Wyoming updates Missing and Murdered Indigenous statistics, but lack of context persists

The movement to address the high numbers of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples has taken off nationwide. Wyoming is attempting to paint a clearer picture of the problem.
Activists march on the Wind River Reservation in 2020 as part of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP) movement. (Taylar Stagner/Wyoming Public Radio)

 

This story comes to KHOL through a content-sharing relationship with Wyoming Public Radio.

In 2020, as awareness about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP) movement rose nationwide, the state of Wyoming issued a report analyzing how pervasive the issue is in the state. This week, during the tribal committee meeting before the Wyoming legislature, the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center presented an updated report. 

From 2021 up through 2022 so far there have been 40 homicides in the state — three of which were of Indigenous people. Over the same time frame 100 Indigenous people were reported missing,  a number that includes minors running away from home. 

Emily Grant, a senior researcher on the project, said the report accounted for unique missing cases and repeat people appearing in the research.

“In 2021, American Indian Alaskan natives represented 17 percent of the cases, as we know the population is about three percent,” she said. “So, when we see something that’s higher than that, that is a disproportionate number. In 2022, so far, it’s 16 percent. So pretty steady there.”

Grant acknowledged that it’s useful to update the numbers but that the report is missing context. 

“The real context involves going and speaking with people in the community, the people that are you know, responding to these issues, their families themselves and getting more of this information. And that is the part that is missing from this update,” she said. 

Grant said the research team had sent out surveys to 90 law enforcement entities in the state to get a better idea of protocol in regards to missing people, but that only 22 had responded. The agencies were given around two weeks to reply, and each received three emailed reminders. 

The full update from the  report will be released in January of next year.

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