PORTLAND, Ore. — A report released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon on Friday marks a milestone in the nation's relatively new effort to compile and investigate reports of missing and murdered Native Americans.
“For generations, American Indians and Alaskan Natives have suffered from disproportionately high levels of violence. Tragically, this is not a crisis of the past; it’s a crisis of the present,” said U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. “In this report, we look back and forward, summarizing what is known about missing and murdered Indigenous people in Oregon and outlining our plans and goals for the year ahead. While we won’t solve this problem overnight, our office is working closely with Oregon law enforcement partners, other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and the U.S. Department of Justice to end endemic violence in Indian Country.”
The Justice Department launched the "Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons" initiative in November of 2019 — the culmination of a grassroots effort to bring more attention to the phenomenon of unsolved cases among Native American communities in the U.S. Oregon's report is the first in the nation to be produced.
The report notes that investigation of missing person or murder cases in Indian Country has traditionally been hampered by issues of jurisdiction, lack of coordination, and inadequate resources.
One of the primary purposes of this first report was to compile unsolved cases of missing or murdered people from Oregon Tribes, combining data previously held separately by Oregon State Police, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
The data drawn from those different databases produced 19 unsolved cases tied to Oregon — 11 missing (six women and five men) and 8 murdered (five women and three men). All are Indigenous persons, most of them members of an Oregon Tribe. Some held Tribal affiliation in different areas of the country, but were last seen in Oregon.
One case included in the report is that of Tyrone Beau Robinson of the Klamath Tribes. Robinson is listed as having disappeared in December of 2018 from the Klamath Falls area.
The report notes that this data is "only a snapshot," the beginning of an effort to more deeply examine these cases and more that may yet be identified.
"In 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will conduct formal tribal consultations with Oregon’s nine tribal governments to discuss [Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person] issues, develop MMIP community response plans, create a District of Oregon MMIP Working Group, further develop data surrounding Oregon MMIP cases, and increase collaboration among all involved entities who interact with MMIP cases," the agency said.
If you or someone you know have information about missing or murdered Indigenous people in Oregon, please contact the FBI Portland Field Office by calling (503) 224-4181 or by visiting tips.fbi.gov.