Analysis from the College of Wyoming addresses the issue of indigenous lacking folks

CHEYENNE, Wyoming (Wyoming News Now) – It’s Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day, Monday.

The University of Wyoming is researching missing indigenous peoples. Dr. Emily Grant, a community psychologist and research scientist at the school, came to the fore when Gabby Petitio’s missing person case landed in Wyoming. Grant examines the discrepancy in the lack of media coverage of indigenous peoples compared to Petitios.

The University of Wyoming’s Day of Awareness in 2019 brought together advocates, tribesmen and researchers to address the issue of missing indigenous people in the state of Wyoming.

Governor Mark Gordon was there as a guest. Following the day’s event, he appointed a task force to address the problem.

“If all things were the same, we would see if someone was 3 percent of the population, we would see 3 percent of homicides, but 21 percent of homicides show they are disproportionately affected,” Grant said.

Looking through the lens of the indigenous community helps identify the barriers to this problem as researchers search for solutions.

“A major concern is to raise the awareness of the community. I think that has definitely happened now. A lot of people have heard about this topic in the last month who have never heard of it before, ”Grant said.

Research with Wyoming Vital Statistics Records and data from the National Crime Information Center found that 20 percent of Indians have been reported missing for more than 30 days. In contrast, only 11 percent of whites were missing at the same time.

Most of the indigenous victims were young girls from 22 of the state’s 23 counties.

“I know a lot of people have said, ‘How can it be so high? I’ve never heard of it and live in Wyoming, and if it really had been that big of a deal, it sure would have been on the news. ‘ But that’s the problem, if we don’t cover these stories then people will be resistant when we first show them to them, “Grant said.

Information exchanged between law enforcement agencies, reporting problems and lack of trust have all been obstacles in the search for missing indigenous people.

The task force aims to empower victim services, shelters, and lawyers across Wyoming to help spread information awareness and resources.

Jurisdiction rules, communication barriers, and reporting issues were the major obstacles to reporting indigenous people.

For this community, too, the investigative process and resources were not the same according to pre-trial detention.

The task force aims to strengthen victim services, shelters and lawyers in all counties and reservations, and to better distribute community resources.

“You experience violence more often than other women in the country. They go missing, have higher homicide rates, sexual violence, stalking, all of these things plague the community, ”Grant said.

Now that the investigation is complete, the next step for the task force is to review potential policy changes.

“I think it’s important to say that these are all people worth finding. You have families, loved ones, who take care of them. They hope to come back so it’s important to tell the media that. “

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