The State-Tribal Relations Committee is asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to participate in an official capacity in the work of the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force.
The 2019 Legislature created the task force in the absence of a federal solution to the jurisdictional bureaucracy and lack of data gathering that can delay missing persons investigations in Indian Country. The task force is asked to identify jurisdictional barriers as well as strategies to improve interagency communication, cooperation, and collaboration.
While touring the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation in August, the STRC heard that local BIA and FBI agents are not authorized to formally participate in the task force. The STRC met by conference call on September 16 to approve a letter telling the BIA and FBI a lack of participation could lead to missed opportunities to defray the impact of violent crime in Montana.
Members of the STRC include Representatives Jade Bahr (D-Billings); Alan Doane (R-Bloomfield); Dale Mortensen (R-Billings); Vice Chair Rae Peppers (D-Lame Deer); Joe Read (R-Ronan); and Sharon Stewart-Peregoy (D-Crow Agency); as well as Senators Jen Gross (D-Billings); Dan Salomon (R-Ronan); Chair Jason Small (R-Busby); and Frank Smith (D-Poplar).
The STRC next meets by conference call on September 27 to consider sending a letter of support for Congressional reauthorization of the FUTURE Act, which provides federal funding to tribal colleges and expires on September 30.
For more information on the committee’s activities and upcoming meetings, visit the committee’s website or contact Hope Stockwell, committee staff.
The Legislative News.