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A bill to renew funding for Montana’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force recently passed through the appropriations committee in the state legislature.
The task force was created in 2019, but was set to expire in June.
Montana Public Radio’s Ellis Juhlin reports.
According to research from the U.S. Department of Justice, Montana is the fifth highest state in the country for total Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and despite only being 7% of the total population, 26% of missing persons cases are Indigenous people.
State Rep. Tyson Running Wolf (Blackfeet Nation/D-MT) is the bill’s sponsor.
Addressing the committee, Rep. Running Wolf said the work of the MMIP task force is ongoing and crucial for addressing this issue in Montana.
“I’m not realizing it until I’m standing up here now, that this is what it means to be fighting for our women and children, and our loved and missing people.”
The task force was set to expire this year, but the bill would fund it through the biennium.
This bill also includes funding for one full time employee to help facilitate the work of the task force, and funding for the Looping in Native Communities grant program which supports tribes efforts to identify, report, and find Native American persons who are missing.
Opening ceremonies for the Arctic Winter Games got under way in Wood Buffalo, Alberta Sunday night.
As KNBA’s Rhonda McBride reports, the games have brought more than 2,000 athletes and coaches from seven Arctic nations together to compete in winter sports like cross country skiing, curling, and hockey, as well as traditional games from Indigenous cultures.
Alaska, which represents the United States, has sent more than 240 athletes to compete.
They range in age from 11 to 19.
Josephine Leonard (Yup’ik and Cup’ik), speed skater.
“My team is really great. They’re really supportive, and it’s really fun to skate with them.”
Teamwork is a big part of Josephine Leonard’s Alaska Native culture.
As a skater of Yup’ik and Cup’ik heritage, she’s excited about the chance to compete with other Indigenous athletes.
After watching past competitions, she’s paying a lot more attention to her technique.
“How I swing my arms. How low I am. How aerodynamic I am. How I cross my knees. How I cross over on the corner. All that stuff.”
Leonard is 13 and hopes to bring home an ulu – a medal shaped like a curved knife, which is used to cut fish and scrape hides. They
come in gold, silver, and bronze.
John Monroe, the coach for the Alaska speedskating team, is not sure if they will bring home any ulus.
He says the competition will be tough to beat, partly because the pandemic cut into their training.
Also, teams from other countries like Canada get more financial support. But Monroe says there’s more involved in the Arctic Winter Games than just winning.
“What is good to see is that their competitive spirit is still high. They don’t know how they’re going to do, but they’re gonna have fun.”
The games are held every other year, but there hasn’t been one in five years, due to the pandemic.
Alaska is slated to host the next round of games in Wasilla in 2024.
On Tuesday, the Cherokee Nation will unveil plans for an addiction treatment center to be built in Tahlequah, OK.
Construction of the $18 million project will start this year.
Plans include a main treatment center with separate dormitories for men and women.
Tribal leaders will detail more mental health plans under the Public Health and Wellness Fund Act, which will be officially signed into law during the event.
It will provide $73 million to construct facilities across the reservation over the next five years to meet behavioral health service needs, and provide $5 million in scholarships to encourage more Cherokee citizens to enter behavioral health fields.
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