FBI launches Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons data collection project in Wyoming

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The three speakers from left to right, John Washakie, member Shoshone Business Council; Lloyd Goggles, chairman Northern Arapaho Business Council; Leonard Carollo, FBI assistant special agent in charge.

Wyo4News staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]

February 8, 2024 — The FBI is seeking the public’s help to compile an accurate list of cases in Wyoming involving Native Americans who are missing or unsolved homicides with Native American victims.

The FBI is the primary law enforcement agency investigating serious crimes on the Wind River Indian Reservation, which includes the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.

In recent years, tribes, communities, government agencies, and news media have put a spotlight on concerns about what is sometimes called MMIP, for “Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons.” The FBI is undertaking this data collection project in Wyoming in an effort to ensure we understand what MMIP looks like in the state and what resources the FBI can bring.

“We know that when murders and missing person cases on the Wind River Indian Reservation go unsolved, families and communities can be devastated,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek, who oversees FBI operations in Wyoming. “The FBI is fully committed to leveraging our resources and working with our partners to achieve meaningful progress in identifying these cases. We will continue to seek justice in their resolutions.”

The FBI is working with law enforcement agencies across Wyoming, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Wyoming, and researchers from the University of Wyoming.

Perhaps most importantly, the FBI has sought the assistance of the tribal business councils of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. In the past, tribal members have not always been comfortable working with law enforcement in general and the FBI specifically. The FBI recognizes these historical barriers and wants to do everything possible to improve the flow of information.

To that end, the FBI has set up a designated email account, [email protected], to collect information from citizens across Wyoming who might have information about unsolved cases involving missing tribal members or Native Americans whose murders have not been solved. The FBI wants to hear about whether these cases were never reported, were never properly investigated, or new information is available. People can also leave a message at 307-433-3221. All callers who leave a name and phone number will receive a return call.

It is anticipated that in-person information-gathering sessions will be held on the reservation. Information about those opportunities will be announced at a later date.

“The Shoshone Business Council encourages all tribal members to assist with the FBI’s initiative in compiling a list of unsolved homicides on the Wind River Indian Reservation,” said Shoshone Business Council Chairman John St. Clair. “If you have a relative who is presently missing or whose homicide is unresolved, contact the FBI. We urge you to attend the in-person gathering.”

“For decades, we have mourned scores of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People across Indian Country,” said Chairman Lloyd Goggles of the Northern Arapaho Business Council. “Over 700 Native people were reported missing in Wyoming between 2011 and 2020 alone, and our Native brothers and sisters fall victim to homicide at a rate approximately eight times higher than the general public. Tragically, far too many of these cases have gone unreported or unsolved. We urge the Arapaho people to bring forward any information they may have to federal authorities so that there can be justice for the victims and closure for their families.”

After a 90-day data collection period, the FBI will research and investigate the tips brought to our attention. In situations where the FBI does not have jurisdiction, information will be forwarded to the appropriate agency. Findings will be presented to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes and then to the public. A timeline for that will depend on how many tips are received and how much analysis is required.