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Dec 12, 2018

Tester Demands Answers from Feds on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Epidemic

Missoula's Kimberly Loring HeavyRunner Testifies at Today's Senate Hearing

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(U.S. Senate) - U.S. Senator Jon Tester demanded answers from federal law enforcement officials during today's Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic.

"You cannot step foot in Indian Country without hearing a heartbreaking story about this growing problem-that is why we are here today," Tester said. "We need to know what's happening and what exactly can happen to solve this problem. Because these are people, these are families, these are communities that our law enforcement agencies need to look out for."

Tester had initially requested the hearing back in August after meeting with tribal leaders in Montana who told him that 20 Native American women had gone missing in the state since the beginning of 2018, but only one had been found.

"Where's the problem? Is it with BIA, is it with the FBI, is it with tribal law enforcement? Why are we not finding these people?" Tester asked. "We have got to find a solution to this. We have to."

In addition to representatives from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the National Institute of Justice the hearing featured testimony from native legislators and advocates, including Kimberly Loring HeavyRunner of Missoula.

"Thank you for allowing me to speak for my sister Ashley," Loring HeavyRunner said. "I'm here today to stress to you that I believe law enforcement did not take Ashley's case seriously, as well as other girls that have gone missing and been murdered in Indian Country."

Ashley HeavyRunner was a 20-year-old member of the Blackfeet Tribe. She disappeared on June 8, 2017. Her sister Kimberly has been looking for Ashley ever since and has become a vocal advocate on this issue.

As a senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has taken a three-pronged approach to addressing this epidemic focused on raising awareness, providing resources to support survivors, and empowering tribes to bring assailants to justice. He wrapped up today's hearing with a simple request.

"We've got work to do," Tester said. "I don't think this should be our last hearing on this."

 

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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