State agencies release new report addressing crisis of missing indigenous people

A new report published by state law enforcement agencies last week includes information about two people marked missing from the Valdez-Cordova Borough in the 1970s and 1980s.   

The Missing Indigenous Persons Report — released Aug. 22 by the Anchorage Police Department (APD) and the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) — provides information and data on missing persons cases in the state. While many of the people have already been reported missing by the state, the new data is meant to provide more transparency on their race and circumstances surrounding their disappearance.   

The data is from the Alaska Public Safety Information Network (APSIN) and was reported by either APD or DPS. Agency personnel also put each case into one of three categories — environmental, not suspicious or suspicious — after reviewing the records associated with each investigation. 

The new data included information about two missing persons from the Valdez-Cordova Borough. Alvin Goodlataw, an Alaska Native man last of Glennallen, is reported to have disappeared on Feb. 7, 1977 due to environmental circumstances. 

Joseph Devlin, the other missing person from the Valdez-Cordova Borough whose race was marked “unknown,” was last contacted on July 12, 1981. The circumstance of his disappearance out of Valdez was also marked “environmental.”  

In addition, the report listed about 13 people missing from the Kodiak Island Borough due to environmental circumstances.  


According to the data 437 people were reported missing to ADP and DPS, and 372 people were located. During that same time period, 199 of those people were Alaska Native, American Indian, or their race was unknown. Of those 199, 174 people were located. 

A person is considered missing until they have been located by law enforcement. In this report, a circumstance determination of environment includes non‐suspicious outdoor deaths where human remains were not located — including wilderness, waterways, ocean, and aircraft crashes. 

The report fits into the state’s broader mission to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) crisis. The agencies involved said they intend to update this report annually, and include regional police departments who are interested in participating.  

Indigenous women and girls experience higher rates of homicide and disappearing.  

In 2016 the U.S. Department of Justice’s federal missing persons database showed there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), there is no reliable count of the number of missing and murdered indigenous women each year. The BIA attributes this in part to indigenous women having their race misidentified or misrepresented. The BIA estimates that there are approximately 4,200 MMIP cases that are unsolved. 

“The Alaska Department of Public Safety is committed to conducting thorough investigations into all missing persons and murder investigations that occur in our area of responsibility, including those involving Alaska Natives and American Indians,” James Cockrell, commissioner for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, said in a press release about the report. “We have heard the concerns of community leaders about a lack of communication related to MMIP investigations across the state, and this is a positive step towards increased transparency.” 

In addition to Alaska State Troopers, there are four MMIP investigators that work across Alaska. 

“This new report will provide Alaskans with additional clarity on the number of missing persons that are Alaska Natives, American Indians, or whose race we are not sure of,” said Cockrell. “DPS will continue to lead MMIP efforts across the State of Alaska with our local law enforcement partners.”  

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the People First Initiative in December 2021 — which addresses five policy areas, including MMIP. DPS and APD representatives participated in a working group related to finding ways to improve MMIP investigations and data collection and sharing. The working group helped inspire the creation of last month’s report. 

DPS officials have made other moves to provide transparency with crime data. The department updated the public Alaska Missing Persons Clearinghouse in early 2023 to include the race and gender of every missing person listed in Alaska Public Safety Information Network (APSIN). The APSIN dataset shows the name, date last contact, investigating agency, and the case number for each missing person. DPS has also updated their missing persons clearinghouse operations, with the mission of inputting all missing persons cases into the US Department of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) within 30 days of that person being reported missing.  

NamUS is a national, centralized resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons cases across the country. It includes more data points than what is listed on the state’s public website. 

Anchorage Police Chief Michael Kerle said that APD takes “hundreds” of missing persons reports each year — and that each of these reports are investigated by an officer, and potential follow-up is conducted by the APD Homicide Unit. Kerle also wanted to dispel the myth that you must wait 24 hours to report a missing person, he said you can report a missing person to police as soon as you discover they’re missing. 

If you are a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, or sexual violence you can find support from the Cordova Family Resource Center at, and via their 24-hour helpline at 907-424-HELP(4357) or text help line at 1-860-407-8001. Additional statewide resources can be found at the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault’s website: If you are in need of immediate help or assistance, please call 911.