Unsolved Cases of Missing and Slain Indigenous Peoples Highlighted by Families Across the US

Families of missing and slain Indigenous peoples in the United States are drawing attention to the lack of justice in their cases. Yolanda Fraser, whose granddaughter Kaysera Stops Pretty Places was found dead four years ago in Hardin, Montana, is among those leading the fight for justice. Despite the establishment of a new US government program aimed at addressing the issue, most cases remain unsolved, with over 300 potential cases closed due to jurisdictional conflicts and other issues.

The federal government has jurisdiction over most Native American reservations, which often lack their own police force and experience disproportionately high rates of missing persons. This is compounded by a history of injustices, including massacres, forced assimilation, and displacement of tribes from their traditional lands.

To raise awareness, Fraser and other families have dedicated a billboard along Interstate 90 near Hardin, listing the names of four dozen missing and slain individuals from the Northern Cheyenne and Crow reservations. They hope to erect similar billboards near other reservations across the country, emphasizing the human stories behind the crime statistics and urging local officials to take action.

The case of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, who was found dead in Big Horn County, just outside the Crow Indian Reservation, is now being reexamined by agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Missing and Murdered Unit. This unit, formed in 2021 by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, has received 845 case referrals, with 117 solved and 372 still under review or investigation. However, more than 350 cases were closed without resolution due to jurisdictional issues.

The Missing and Murdered Unit currently has 15 agents, with plans to increase its staff. However, this caseload represents only a fraction of the estimated 4,200 unsolved cases nationwide involving American Indians and Alaska Natives. Indigenous people account for 3.5% of missing persons in the US, more than three times their percentage in the overall population.

The rise in reported violent crimes against Native Americans, which more than tripled between 2010 and 2020, further highlights the need for improved law enforcement on reservations and addressing jurisdictional challenges. Families and advocates continue to push for justice and greater attention to the plight of missing and slain Indigenous peoples.


Author: CrimeDoor

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