Federal program will address missing and murdered Indigenous persons

A new Department of Justice (DOJ) program will focus on prevention and response to missing or murdered Indigenous people in five designated regions of the country, including Alaska.

The Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) regional outreach program is permanently placing three MMIP assistant U.S. Attorneys and one MMIP coordinator in the Alaska U.S. Attorney’s office to prosecute violations of federal criminal law occurring in Indigenous country. The program also aims to improve relationships among federal, Tribal, state and local partners.

DOJ officials said on June 28 that the assistant attorneys assigned to Alaska may participate in special district programs and initiatives designed to partner with and assist federally recognized tribes in combatting emerging public safety issues.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the new program is mobilizing the department’s resources to combat the crisis of missing or murdered Indigenous persons, which has shattered the lives of victims, their families and entire Tribal communities.

More broadly, this MMIP program will complement the work of the DOJ’s national Native American outreach services liaison, who is helping amplify the voice of crime victims in Indigenous country and their families as they navigate the federal criminal justice system. The MMIP program will also liaise with and enhance the work of the department’s Tribal liaisons and Indian Country Assistant United States attorneys throughout Indigenous country, the Native American issues coordinator, and the National Indian Country Training Initiative coordinator to ensure a comprehensive response to MMIP, DOJ officials said.