Alaska has fourth highest rates of murdered and missing indigenous women

Published: Oct. 2, 2019 at 7:59 PM AKDT
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153 cases of missing or murdered indigenous women were missing from law enforcement records, according to a study done by the Urban Indian Health Institute.

Nine of those cases were in Anchorage.

“The 153 cases were not in law enforcement records, but what’s really disturbing about all of that, is why aren’t they?” Asked Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center Executive Director Tami Truett Jerue at an Anchorage Assembly public safety committee meeting Wednesday.

The committee was meeting in part to discuss the high rates of these crimes.

“Unfortunately, Alaska does rank fourth in the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls cases, as we can document it, at this point,” Truett said. “Anecdotally, we know it’s higher.”

So why do so many of these cases go missing in law enforcement records?

“There’s going to be multiple different reasons, right, we’ve got misclassification that’s happening,” says Native People’s Action Executive Director Kendra Kloster. “Saying it was a suicide rather than a murder… There’s also misclassification of race.”

Some are never reported to law enforcement in the first place.

“Anchorage is a hub community, right, for the whole state,” says Assembly Member Forrest Dunbar. “And so people come in from rural areas here and as we heard in the presentation today, people can slip through the cracks, and crimes can be perpetrated that are never reported.”

Wednesday’s meeting was to make the assembly aware of this issue, but now they’re thinking about solutions.

“It’s going to be important for APD to partner with other law enforcement agencies, and that’s work they’re already doing,” says Assembly Member Forrest Dunbar. “And also to partner more directly I think with some Alaska Native organizations including the Native Medical Center, so that some of these statistics don’t go unreported.”

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