Unit within Interior to investigate cases of missing and murdered indigenous people
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of the Interior plans to create a special unit to help to investigate missing and murdered indigenous people.
Olivia Lone Bear went missing from the Fort Berthold Reservation in October of 2017 and was found dead nearly a year later.
“The search for Olivia was about 10 months long and pretty much the whole time all the ducks were never in a row, you know. All of the ducks are there but they are all over the place,” said Olivia’s brother Matthew Lone Bear.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced on April 1 that a new unit will be formed to assist tribal, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and FBI investigators in cases like Olivia’s.
State officials like Scott Davis with the Indian Affairs Commission said they are hopeful it streamlines the process and makes investigations more effective.
“These cases get very complex I look at them. I look at them as a need for a plan, a consolidated plan on who going to take the lead,” said Davis.
The unit will work to help solve cold cases and immediately begin assisting agencies on active ones. Davis says he’s hopeful the unit will form a constructive partnership with local officers and other tribal agencies.
“Who better knows the people, the environment than locals? Everybody knows that, and you got to allow that to happen,” said Davis.
Matthew said the new unit means progress.
“I feel like with everything going on with them trying to build this group, I think that that’s great. I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Lone Bear.
According to Davis, there are more than 30 unsolved cases involving missing and murdered indigenous people dating back to the 70s.
Olivia’s case remains under investigation by the FBI.
The unit within the Interior plans to collect more data on these types of crimes.
They will operate within the Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services.
Copyright 2021 KFYR. All rights reserved.