ANCHORAGE – In a first for Alaska, the Curyung Tribal Council of Dillingham and the Native Village of Unalakleet unanimously approved their Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Tribal Community Response Plans (TCRP) as part of the Department of Justice’s national MMIP Initiative.
“The adoption of these plans marks a major milestone in finding lasting solutions to the MMIP challenge in Alaska,” said Acting U.S. Attorney, Bryan Wilson of the District of Alaska. “Over the last few months tribal representatives, law enforcement officials and victim service organizations have partnered together to design a plan that is right for victims and their families while remaining culturally sensitive and balanced with what the law requires.”
In a show of support and to celebrate this important milestone, members of the AK MMIP working group, including members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard and Victims for Justice traveled to Dillingham on Tuesday to witness Curyung adopt its TCRP. On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard flew working group members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Law, Tanana Chiefs Conference’s Village Police Safety Officer program and Victims for Justice to celebrate the Native Village of Unalakleet’s momentous achievement and adoption of its TCRP.
A TCRP is a guide for how a tribal community will build response capacity, collaborate with law enforcement and provide other support in response to a report of a new missing or murdered person. The TCRP is individualized and tailored to the needs, resources and culture of each local community.
According to its detailed plan, “Curyung will collaborate with individuals and agencies to promote the development and implementation of a coordinated community response to address issues of violence against enrolled citizens of Curyung Tribal Council while honoring victims no matter the situation or their heritage.”
The Native Village of Unalakleet declared in its detailed plan to “work collaboratively to support law enforcement, search and rescue, victim services and other support agencies” and “ensure all unresolved missing person cases are kept active by collaborating with local, state and federal law enforcement.”
Both TCRPs are comprehensive and include how and when to submit a missing person report, what will happen during a response and who will lead the investigation. The plan also establishes a clear response structure and outlines training opportunities as well as victim support services.
Next, both the Curyung Tribal Council and the Native Village of Unalakleet will pilot a TCRP tabletop exercise with the National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC). The exercise will help create a training module for tribal communities, law enforcement and other community stakeholders to practice their MMIP incident response. “By practicing and preparing for an MMIP incident, from the first report of a missing person to its resolution, tribal communities and multi-disciplinary partners will improve their response across the state,” added Wilson.
In February, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that three Alaska tribal communities volunteered to participate as Alaska Pilot Project sites creating TCRPs. The sites include the tribal communities of Curyung Tribal Council (Dillingham), Native Village of Unalakleet and Koyukuk Native Village. The next step is for model TCRPs to be created based on the work by the Pilot Project sites. The models will be shared with tribal communities across the state who can then tailor it to the specific needs, resources and culture of their communities.
Alaska is among the first of six pilot-program states developing community response plans in accordance with the U.S. Attorney General’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative and the President’s Operation Lady Justice Task Force. The other states are Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma and Oregon.