AMBER Alert Indian Country Briefs: Issues 3-4, 2023

Short news items about AMBER Alert & child protection issues—from Indian Country

Collage of missing Native American women to illustrate the newly released “2022 Missing American Indian and Alaska Native Persons: Age 21 and Under” report from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

OJJDP releases statistics on missing youth

According to a newly released “2022 Missing American Indian and Alaska Native Persons: Age 21 and Under” report from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), of the more than 10,000 cases of American Indian and Alaska Native youth reported missing in 2022, 65 percent were between the ages of 12 and 17; girls represented 4,000 of those cases compared to 2,500 males. Additional statistics from the report, based on data from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), showed that 190 of the case entries (about 4 percent) were for males under age 12, compared to 165 entries (3 percent) for missing girls under age 12. More detailed information can be found in the report.

Blurred photo of a young girl on a swing; she was found murdered on Tribal land in Canada

Official: More inclusive alert criteria needed

The death of an Indigenous girl whose body was found on Tribal land near Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, has prompted calls to expand AMBER Alert criteria. The 8-year-old’s body was found five days after authorities conducted a welfare check and began investigating her suspicious disappearance. A Canadian Centre for Child Protection official said that while AMBER Alerts remain “very, very important,” a process needs to be in place for those who don’t meet AMBER Alert criteria.

Image of poster promoting new "Feather Alert" in California

California introduces new Feather Alert

In response to the ongoing crisis of people missing from Tribal communities, California has  enacted a new Feather Alert. The statewide notification, similar to an AMBER Alert, can be issued for missing Indigenous people or Tribal members. “We’re hoping it’s beneficial, because we really need it,” said Keely Linton, who heads the Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition in Escondido. Linton noted that while much of the concern is for missing Indigenous women, some Tribes report more missing men.

Photo showing marchers, wearing red, to support more investigations into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Children (MMIWC)

Native American Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan cites ‘urgent and critical need’ for MMIP solutions

Native Americans who lost loved ones to violence, or experienced injustice, testified during a Not Invisible Act Commission field hearing in Minneapolis. As part of the federal government’s efforts to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) crisis, Tribal members detailed their emotional losses and the apathy they experienced in trying to get cases investigated. They recommended more collaborative training between law enforcement and Tribes. Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, a Native American, said there is “an urgent and critical need” to keep communities safe and support those who have lost loved ones. The commission will use information gathered at its hearings to recommend best practices for solving MMIP cases.