Unsolved Homicides in Indian Country

Unsolved Homicides in Indian Country
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2020-03-12
Unit 1Slide Deck: Unsolved Homicides in Indian Country
Unit 2Workbook: Unsolved Homicides in Indian Country
Unit 3Recording: Unsolved Homicides in Indian Country

Native Americans comprise about 1% of the total US population, but the missing and unsolved homicide cases within their segment is staggering. Compared to the national average, Indian Country’s violent crime rate is more than twice larger, violent crimes against women is at least twice more, and sexual assault and rape is three times the general population. What could be underlying reasons for this? What is being done on the federal and state level to address this? Dr. David Rogers will discuss ongoing issues and challenges that contribute to this as well as solutions to alleviate it.

This session’s instructor is David J. Rogers. He is an expert when it comes to the plight of the Native Americans and has an extensive experience in the criminal justice field. He is currently the CEO and chief instructor of Tribal Public Safety Innovations and is enrolled with the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho.

Points he tackled on this course include:

  • A backgrounder on Indian Country – its definition, scope, and basic demographic breakdown.
  • Understanding the extent of crimes in Indian country through comparison to the general US population’s average, crime rate trends, and resources.
  • The state of Policing in Indian Country – the agencies, available manpower, and funding sources.
  • The jurisdictional challenges that have been afflicting Indian Country policing presented chronologically as case laws and legislation that defined and redefined their authority.
  • Other difficulties that Indian Country law enforcement face in terms of response, inter-agency coordination, community trust and involvement, funding, and investigations.
  • The issue of missing and murdered native persons – a brief history and a look into the current reality.
  • Historical and contemporary challenges that tribal police encounter hindering them to address the cases of missing persons and homicides promptly and effectively.
    • Recruitment and retention issues and the lack of manpower vis-à-vis the areas to cover.
    • Lack of resources and inconsistent funding to obtain vehicles and standard equipment.
    • The lack of training and investigative skills for tribal police that various organizations are trying to bridge.
    • Jurisdictional limits and lack of interest of agencies with jurisdiction that are addressed through cross-deputization and collaboration.
    • Working on community relationships to drive better reporting and trust.
    • The gaps in terms of access to data and information sharing that are improved through the efforts of the federal government and the tribes themselves.
  • Factors that subject those in Indian Country at a greater risk due to the economic conditions of the population and the qualities of Indian Country that make it physically susceptible to crime.
  • Grass roots initiatives that aim to raise awareness on the issue and assist the victims and their families.
  • Legislative efforts at the state level for better response and investigation of these cases.
  • Savanna’s Act – the federal government’s response for improved data collection, information sharing, and standardized protocols for these cases.
  • Ongoing efforts that the tribes are involved in to generate funding, assemble a task force. and streamline investigation procedures for missing and homicide cases in Indian Country.

Some of the topics raised during the Q&A are:

  • The Oliphant Decision’s effectivity.
  • How non-recognized tribal groups can access federal grants.
  • Utilizing NamUs for these missing and murdered cases.
  • The importance of developing justice capabilities within Indian Country through education and training.
  • How Tribal Police can be given access to states’ missing and unidentified cases database.
  • Getting the buy-in of Native Americans to comply with identification and biometrics procedures used for investigations.
  • Tribal police’s access to forensic laboratories.


Audience Comments

  • “I learned more about the challenges facing tribal police and how some of those challenges originate from history.” — Angelique
  • “Amazed by the number of missing and murdered Native Americans. The historical perspective of law enforcement regarding Native Americans. Update on events and progress of cooperation between Tribal law enforcement and other law enforcement agencies.” — Dan
  • “Didn’t know how bad human trafficking and murders are in Indian country.” — Karla


Additional Resources
2 years ago
After the Webinar: Unsolved Homicides in Indian Country. Q&A with David Rogers
Webinar presenter David Rogers answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Unsolved […]
2 years ago
Drug Trafficking in Indian Country
Statistics show the level that drug trafficking and addiction has impacted Indian Country. Character […]
3 years ago
Tribal-Federal-State Jurisdiction and its Relationship to Public Safety in Indian Country
The plight of Native Americans is a convoluted one. From being the guardians of the land, they were […]
3 years ago
Using NamUs to Resolve Missing and Unidentified Indigenous Person Cases
NamUs is a powerful tool designed to assist with missing and unidentified persons cases. Traditional […]
3 years ago
How the Murder Accountability Project Can Help Justice Professionals Work Cases
Due to law enforcement's lack of resources and an overloaded workforce, it can get quite difficult t […]