US attorneys Trent Shores from the northern district of Oklahoma and Brian Kuester from the eastern district of Oklahoma have started a pilot project to implement a tribal community response plan with Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Cherokee Nation under the Missing of Attorney General William P. Barr and MMIP (Murdered Indigenous Persons) initiative. Muscogee (Creek) Nation chief David Hill and Cherokee Nation chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. along with US attorneys made the announcement.
The Tribal Community Response Plan pilot is designed to establish a collaborative response from tribal governments, law enforcement, and other partners by implementing culturally appropriate guidelines when investigating emerging cases of missing and murdered Alaskan Indians and Natives. The US Department of Justice and other federal agencies worked with tribal leaders, law enforcement, and tribal communities to develop draft guidelines for developing a tribal community response plan.
Each plan consists of guidelines that address at least four different areas in response to MMIP cases: law enforcement, victim services, public relations, and media / public communications.
Oklahoma US attorneys are the first to launch the pilot. Five more US law firms are slated to do so at a later date. The lessons learned from the pilot will be used to improve draft guidelines for developing a tribal community response plan before being used in states across the country.
“The first step in achieving justice for missing and murdered Indians was to recognize the injustice of any historical indifference or neglect of these tragic cases. Now is the time to take action to directly address this crisis, “said US attorney Trent Shores. “I am proud to be working with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Cherokee Nation to announce the first pilot of its kind to develop and implement community protocols and action plans for cases of missing and murdered indigenous peoples. The Department of Justice continues to place an emphasis on public safety in India, particularly when it comes to reducing violent crime rates, which appear to disproportionately affect Native American women and children. “
“Justice and Freedom for All” are not only the final words of our pledge of loyalty, they are at the heart and foundation of what the United States stands for. They create a standard that we must continuously strive for in order to preserve the critical principles they express, ”said US attorney Brian J. Kuester. “Tribal community response plans will unite people, authorities and sovereigns who work for justice and freedom for all. Together we will identify and implement best practices to respond to and investigate cases of missing and murdered indigenous peoples. I look forward to building on the US Attorney’s close relationships with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Cherokee Nation, and our law enforcement partners as we move forward together. “
“We are undoubtedly strongest when we work with agencies and tribes working toward our common goal, and that improves public safety and protection for those who need it most,” said David Hill, chief of the Muscogee nation (Creek). “Unfortunately, we know all too well the challenges and trends that we need to reverse with regard to missing and murdered tribal peoples. We believe this type of collaboration, where our input is sought and used to create culture-specific guidelines, is the best way to go and we can’t wait to get started. “
“Today’s new pilot program for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People is an important partnership with the United States Department of Justice and will pursue a goal we all share: protecting Cherokees on the reservation and bringing missing Cherokees home to their families and communities. ” Chuck Hoskin Jr., chief of the Cherokee Nation, said. “If any of our Cherokee citizens are injured or missing, this is an emergency. And now this pilot program will help pool our focus and resources on these cases with immediate, coordinated and professional response plans. “
“An effective strategy to combat violent crime in tribal areas can only be successful with a unified front of our law enforcement partners who work with the communities we serve,” said FBI special agent Melissa Godbold of the Oklahoma City Field Office. “This program unites us all in our common goal of creating a safer community with an emphasis on solving crimes that affect missing and murdered tribal peoples in Oklahoma.”