AT&T provides $25,000 matching donation
BROWNING – Blackfeet Community College (BCC), in partnership with Montana’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, announced the launch of a new Missing Indigenous Persons reporting portal (www.mmipmt.com) to streamline reporting efforts to help locate missing individuals.
BCC received a $25,000 grant from the Montana Department of Justice, funding that was allocated in the 2019 Montana Senate Bill 312, the Looping in Native Communities (LINC) Act. The law requires a $25,000 match from the college. AT&T has generously provided a $25,000 donation for the entire match. Funding from the LINC Act will allow for a network of tribal communities to share missing persons data and allow for a safe, easily accessible online reporting portal.
The website allows families and friends to complete a Contact Information Form about the missing person online. In the past, missing persons’ loved ones have expressed reluctance to report missing individuals directly to law enforcement. The BCC reporting system will serve as the go-between for those reporting and all levels of law enforcement. Once the form is submitted on the website, an automatic notice will be sent to local tribal law enforcement. Volunteers from BCC will provide support to the missing person’s family while working with law enforcement. All data collected through the website will be shared with appropriate law enforcement entities including tribal, county, state, and federal. The initial rollout of the website will be within the Browning area with remaining tribal communities in Montana to be added to the network within the next year. Additional information about missing persons, simultaneous posting to social media, and the ability to submit an anonymous tip about a missing person will also be available through the website.
“Students and staff at Blackfeet Community College began this effort years ago,” said Drew Landry, the Missing Indigenous Persons/LINC grant coordinator at Blackfeet Community College. “We built a website and launched an online petition that garnered 55,000 signatures seeking justice for former student Ashley Loring HeavyRunner. This grant gives us the opportunity to move from awareness to helping our community with the process of reporting missing loved ones. The website, reporting portal and database are important tools that encourage communication between the public and law enforcement. We are also working with community members to address the root causes of the missing and murdered epidemic in Indian Country, while collectively working together to address any jurisdictional or legal loopholes that will help solve cases. DOJ and sponsors like AT&T and Dillon Software are key partners in developing the infrastructure that will make reporting missing persons cases in Montana easier in the future.”
“One of the greatest thrills you get in the legislature is when an idea progresses along and finally becomes something tangible,” said Senator Jason Small of Busby, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and the sponsor of the LINC Act.“LINC has been one of those bills which will have a long-lasting impact on many communities. I appreciate the willingness of people to participate on the task force in which LINC created and would also like to express my gratitude towards the good people at AT&T for the financial support to help make the database happen. This is a large step in the right direction.”
“It is important that we are all deepening the conversation and bringing attention to the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous persons affecting tribes and Native communities in Montana,” said Tara Thue, president for AT&T Mountain West States. “AT&T is honored to offer a contribution to this critical effort as we work to bring an end to this horrifying pattern.”
On Saturday, November 7, BCC will host a virtual concert online at 7 p.m. Mountain Time to mark the launch of the Missing Indigenous Persons reporting portal. The public is invited to join the concert to help mark the launch of the website and raise awareness. Details about the concert are attached to this release in a flyer designed by a BCC student. Please visit www.mmipmt.com for more information about the database, reporting portal, and details about the upcoming concert.