CHEYENNE, Wyo.– Governor Mark Gordon announced July 17 that he has appointed members to a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force. The Governor was inspired to create the Task Force after attending an event at the University of Wyoming organized by the Native student group, Keepers of the Fire, which sought to shine a light on the high rates of murder or missing Native American women and girls.
“I’m eager for us to tackle this issue, as I believe it is imperative to ensure the public safety of all Wyoming citizens,” Governor Gordon stated. “The Wind River Reservation operates under a separate criminal justice jurisdictional scheme – but Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribal members are also citizens of Wyoming. I am committed to working with our federal and tribal partners to ensure the safety of our Native American communities.”
Governor Gordon noted that Wyoming currently does not report on the number of American Indian persons who are missing in the state. Further, the Governor expressed concern about children who may be reported missing in Indian Country and aren’t quickly reported through the state’s AMBER Alert System.
“Several years ago an 11-year old Navajo girl was abducted and murdered, but because of jurisdictional barriers, an AMBER Alert was not issued until 10 hours after she went missing,” the Governor added. “We must ensure that if any child goes missing – whether on or off the Reservation -- our response to finding those children is quick and uniform.”
The Task Force will call on law enforcement, tribal liaisons, state agencies and other stakeholders to look at the number of missing or murdered indigenous people in Wyoming and to provide recommendations to enhance reporting and public safety.
The Governor appointed the following members:
Organizational Ex-Officio members include:
The Task Force will hold two in-person meetings on July 24, 2019 and Aug. 7, 2019, at the Division of Victim Services, located at 320 W. 25th Street, 2nd Floor, Cheyenne, WY. Members of the public interested in participating may attend the Task Force meeting in person or participate by telephone by contacting the Division at 307-777-7200 for information on the conference call line. The Task Force will also accept written testimony, comments or ideas. Those may be emailed to [email protected] before Aug. 10, 2019.
Governor Gordon will review the Task Force’s recommendations and set-up meetings with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho leaders to discuss, on a government-to-government basis, any recommendations requiring intergovernmental agreements. Further, the Task Force will also report to the Legislature’s Select Tribal Relations Committee at its Aug. 19-20, 2019 hearing in Fort Washakie on any recommendations that would require legislation.