Tester Announces Release of Landmark Federal Study on MMIP Crisis

Senator secured study as part of his ongoing effort to address MMIP crisis and improve public safety in Indian Country

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced the long-awaited release of a landmark study by the federal government on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) crisis. Tester first called for this study in 2019 and lead a bipartisan effort to require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct the study and release its findings.

“We’ve made progress in addressing the MMIP crisis here in Montana and across the country, but we still have more to do, and this report is an important step in the right direction,” Tester said. “We now have a better understanding not only of the challenges this crisis presents, but a clear path to set about fixing it. I am going to keep holding the federal government accountable as we work to implement solutions and ensure families and communities in Indian Country remain safe and secure.”

Tester led the push for this report, first by introducing a bill and then leading a bipartisan letter that required GAO to conduct the study. The report – titled “MISSING OR MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN: New Efforts Are Underway but Opportunities Exist to Improve the Federal Response” – identifies key challenges facing the federal response to the MMIP crisis, such as a lack of data and the existence of complex and overlapping jurisdictional issues, that hamper the federal response to MMIP cases.

The study further offered solutions to improve how the federal government handles MMIP cases, including charging the Attorney General with developing and maintaining a federal database of all MMIP cases to help identify trends, a public education campaign aimed at raising awareness around the issue, and the establishment of a Joint Commission on Reducing Violent Crime Against Indians, as required by Tester’s Not Invisible Act of 2019.

As the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Tester has consistently fought to provide Tribal governments and organizations with the resources they need to reduce crime and tackle the MMIP epidemic. He led the Senate passage of Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act, both of which were signed into law in October of 2020, improving information sharing and collaboration between Tribal and federal law enforcement agencies, and he has secured millions to enhance law enforcement, improve public safety, and support victims in Indian Country.

The release of the report coincides with the start of Native American Heritage Month, an effort to educate the public about the issues that Native Americans face and the ways in which Native people have worked to overcome them.

The full GAO report is available HERE.