KTUU: Missing and murdered indigenous women cold case office to open in Anchorage

Seven Cold Case Task Force offices across the nation, dedicated to solving cold cases involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, are opening in the next few weeks, one expected to open in Anchorage.

The Anchorage office is expected to open on August 27. Other nationwide offices include: Rapid City, SD; Billings, MT, Albuquerque, NM, and Phoenix, AZ.

Tuesday morning U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski sent out a news release applauding the establishment of the offices.

“Addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women is going to take all of us to make lasting change. I applaud the administration for the importance placed on this issue—helping us move beyond awareness to action by working to advance initiatives to turn the tide on this crisis. It has truly become an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ effort at all levels of government,” said Senator Murkowski. “These Cold Case Task Force offices are possible because of the funding we worked to include in the 2020 omnibus appropriations bill. Our hope is that they lead to providing justice for the victims and healing for their families. Every step forward is a step in the right direction.”

The offices are opening nearly a year after President Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing a task force designed specifically to take a closer look at missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

According to a release from the U.S. Department of the Interior Indian Affairs, “President Trump’s Executive Order established the Operation Lady Justice Task Force, a multi-agency effort co-chaired by Secretary Bernhardt and U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr. Its purpose is to enhance the operation of the criminal justice system and address the staggering number of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Natives in Tribal communities.”

Murkowski’s office noted in its news release “the task force held its first meeting in January of 2020.”

In early July, it was announced educator and tribal judge E. Ingrid Cumberlidge would take the role of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator for Alaska. The announcement coming from U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder. As Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator, Cumberlidge will be tasked with working with tribal and other levels of government to identify MMIP cases in the state. She will then help governments within the state and federal law enforcement with guidelines and protocols on how to respond to these cases.

By:  Gilbert Cordova
Source: KTUU