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Press Release

Justice Department Strengthens Efforts to Build Partnerships that Address the Crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Oklahoma

TULSA, Okla. – The Northern District of Oklahoma joins the Justice Department and its partners across the federal government, as well as people throughout American Indian and Alaska Native communities, in recognizing May 5 as National Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Awareness Day. 

In recognition of MMIP Awareness Day, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced stepped up efforts to tackle the MMIP and human trafficking crisis in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and other pressing public safety challenges like the fentanyl crisis which have had a disproportionate impact on Native Americans, exacerbating violence and addiction in already vulnerable communities.

“There is still so much more to do in the face of persistently high levels of violence that Tribal communities have endured for generations, and that women and girls, particularly, have endured,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “In carrying out our work, we seek to honor those who are still missing, those who were stolen from their communities, and their loved ones who are left with unimaginable pain. Tribal communities deserve safety, and they deserve justice. This day challenges all of us at the Justice Department to double down on our efforts, and to be true partners with Tribal communities as we seek to end this crisis.”

“The Northern District of Oklahoma is committed to combatting violent crime in Indian Country, especially when it results in Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “We will use every available resource to hold violent offenders accountable, support Indian Country victims, and ensure MMIP remains a priority.”

Justice Department Prioritization of MMIP Cases
Last July, the Justice Department announced the creation of the MMIP Regional Outreach Program, which permanently places 10 attorneys and coordinators in five designated regions across the United States to aid in the prevention and response to missing or murdered Indigenous people. The five regions include the Northwest, Southwest, Great Plains, Great Lakes, and Southeast Regions. 

This program will dedicate an MMIP Regional Outreach Program Coordinator (Coordinator) and an MMIP Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for the Northern District of Oklahoma. The AUSA will support and assist in MMIP cases and related crimes. The Coordinator will assist in promoting communication, coordination, and collaboration among federal, Tribal, local, and state law enforcement and non-governmental partners on MMIP issues. Our victim services staff and support personnel will assist the AUSA and Coordinator's dedication to investigating and prosecuting violent crimes, organized crimes, and sex crimes in Indian Country.

The MMIP regional program prioritizes MMIP cases consistent with the Deputy Attorney General’s July 2022 directive to U.S. Attorneys’ offices promoting public safety in Indian Country. The program fulfills the Justice Department’s promise to dedicate new personnel to MMIP consistent with Executive Order 4053, Improving Public Safety and Criminal Justice for Native Americans and Addressing the Crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People, and the Department’s Federal Law Enforcement Strategy to Prevent and respond to Violence Against American Indians and Alaska Natives, Including to Address Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons issued in July 2022. 

National Missing and Unidentified Persons System
In 2005, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) was created. NamUs is the only national centralized repository and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States. Currently, there are 16 missing indigenous persons within the Northern District of Oklahoma.

Accessing Department of Justice Resources
Over the past year, the Justice Department awarded $2.8 million to help enhance Tribal justice systems and strengthen law enforcement responses in the Northern District of Oklahoma. These awards have also gone toward improving the handling of child abuse cases, combating domestic and sexual violence, supporting Tribal youth programs, and strengthening victim services in Tribal communities.

For additional information about the Department of Justice’s efforts to address the MMIP crisis, please visit the Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons section of the Tribal Safety and Justice website.

Click here for more information about reporting or identifying missing persons.


Public Affairs

Updated May 3, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice