Hope for missing indigenous women and girls crisis
Passed during the 2019 Legislative Session, House Bill 21—named Hanna’s Act after Hanna Harris who was killed in 2013 on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation—created a missing persons specialist position in the state’s Department of Justice.
This specialist will be tasked with investigating cases that occur outside of federal jurisdiction on various Native American reservations around the state at a time when dozens of indigenous women and girls go missing every year in Montana; currently, Montana is among the top five states for missing and murdered cases, according the Urban Indian Health Institute, and despite the institute fielding more than 5,000 reports of missing or murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women in 2016, only 116 of those cases were logged in the Department of Justice’s missing person’s database.
On Sept. 9, former Glacier County Deputy Sheriff Misty LaPlant, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe, was officially hired as the missing persons specialist. LaPlant will work intimately with tribal, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in addressing the crisis.