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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Alaska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Recognizing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day in Alaska

ANCHORAGE – Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Alaska, joins with countless others across the state and the nation in recognition of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Awareness Day. 

“As we pause to remember the Alaska Native communities and families who are mourning a murdered or missing loved one, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reaffirms its commitment to help find lasting solutions to the MMIP challenge in Alaska,” said Acting U.S. Attorney, Bryan Wilson of the District of Alaska. “For generations, Alaska Natives have experienced disproportionately high rates of domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes. Tragically, this is not a problem of the past – it’s a problem that continues today. By working together to create strong partnerships, I am confident we can create a safer and brighter future.”

“In Alaska and across the nation, the FBI honors those whose lives have been shattered or lost from incidents of missing persons and fatal violence experienced by our American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” said Robert Britt, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Anchorage Field Office.  “Today we reaffirm our commitment to address this pattern of violence with resiliency and collaboration, as we continue to support our law enforcement and tribal partners for enhanced public safety throughout Alaska.” 

“The Alaska Department of Public Safety remains committed in our efforts of building and maintaining strong partnerships with all of our tribal, local, state, and federal law enforcement partners,” stated Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell. “We work diligently to garner a better understanding of the cultural differences that make this state unique and great. The Department of Public Safety/Alaska State Troopers are committed to eliminating the scourge of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of harm that disproportionately affects our indigenous population and threatens the stability of our communities.”

“We proudly stand alongside our public safety partners as we all recognize the importance of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day in Alaska,” said Acting Chief Kenneth McCoy with the Anchorage Police Department (APD).“It is imperative that we use our collective skills and working relationships to combat the violence disproportionately impacting our Alaska Native communities. We are committed to finding a solution for such an important and serious matter. Alaska must be a safe place for all. We will do our part.”

Last year the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the appointment of Ingrid Cumberlidge as the Alaska MMIP Coordinator and launched the Alaska MMIP Working Group to address the complexities of MMIP response in Alaska. The group is a multi-disciplinary team involving the collaboration and coordination of tribal representatives, federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement, and social and victim service providers.

Since February the Alaska MMIP Working Group has hosted the initial listening and consultation sessions for about 150 of Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes in the AVCP, TCC, Kawerak, BBNA and A/PIA (scheduled) regions. During these sessions, tribal members share their stories, experiences and needs.

“Building collaboration and relationships through listening and consultation sessions is critical to increasing MMIP response and capacity in Alaska,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Wilson. He also noted that the Working Group is continuing to reach out to all of the Alaska Regions to arrange listening sessions.

Earlier this year three Pilot Projects volunteered to create model guides for how a tribal community will respond to a report of new missing or murdered person case. The Pilot Project sites include the tribal communities of Curyung Native Council (Dillingham), Native Village of Unalakleet and Koyukuk Native Village. When finished the Tribal Community Response Plans (TCRP) will be shared with tribal communities across the state who can then tailor it to the specific needs, resources and culture of their communities.

In April the National MMIP Data Working Group began analyzing existing data to develop a complete picture of MMIP cases. Additionally, the group is looking at data collection practices to identify opportunities to improve MMIP data. Also, in April Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the formation of a new Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services to provide leadership and direction for cross-departmental and interagency work involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.

If you know someone who is missing, it’s critical that you report it right away to 9-1-1 or your closest law enforcement. The first hours of someone missing can be vitally important. If you have questions about the U.S. Attorney’s Office MMIP program, please contact MMIP Program Coordinator, Ingrid Cumberlidge at Ingrid.Cumberlidge@usdoj.gov or USAAK.MMIP@usdoj.gov or call 907-271-3314. 

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Note for Editors:

Presidential Proclamation on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day, 2021

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s Statement on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day, 2021

The Alaska MMIP Working Group is a multi-disciplinary team led by the United States Attorney’s Office MMIP Coordinator, Ingrid Cumberlidge, and comprised of law enforcement representatives, including:

  • Alaska State Troopers and VPSOs
  • FBI
  • Anchorage Police Department
  • U.S. Marshals,
  • Fairbanks Police Department
  • BIA MMU
  • Kotzebue Police Department
  • Nome Police Department,
  • Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska VPSO supervisors
  • Tanana Chief’s Conference VPSO supervisors
  • Representatives from the Alaska Department of Law,
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Tanana Chief’s Conference
  • Tribal representatives from Ahtna Region, Orutsararmiut Native Council, Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak
  • Victim Service Provides
  • Advocates from Victims for Justice
  • Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
21-036
Updated May 5, 2021