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MMIP Group Officials Setting Goals

The Montana Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons group heard from a regional outreach program coordinator during a conference call last week.

Deidre Aanstad, MMIP regional outreach program coordinator, has a history of being a prosecutor in Minnesota for 20 years where she focused on child abuse, domestic violence and homicide cases in Indian Country.

Her focus is to address unsolved murder cases, domestic violence, sexual violence and child abuse cases.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Justice Department announced the creation of the MMIP regional outreach program. Officials say the program will permanently place 10 attorneys and coordinators in five regions across the country to add in the prevention and response to missing or murdered indigenous people.

“It’s also about communication and collaboration,” Aanstad said of the program.

She noted it’s important for groups to work together to create a broad approach. A goal is to establish a good foundation for people to reach out for assistance.

Regional programs will work with the U.S. Attorney General’s office to make sure there’s good communication between the districts, Aanstad said.

Another goal is updating Savanna’s Act guidelines so that it is utilized and it is a living document across jurisdictions. Savanna’s Act establishes national law enforcement guidelines between the federal government and tribes to help track, solve and prevent crimes against Native Americans.

“All of this starts with wanting to hear from you,” Aanstad said to participants in the conference call.

Area resident Lance FourStar said he has spoken with BIA drug enforcement officials about the amount of fentanyl being brought into the Fort Peck Reservation.

FourStar has been told that people can purchase a fentanyl pill for $1 in Spokane, Wash., and then sell them for $60 to $100 per pill in Montana. He said it’s a cheap train ride for these individuals to make the trip to eastern Montana. He was told one individual was found with 1,000 fentanyl pills.

FourStar said he has been informed that Amtrak’s identification screening process needs to be improved and he has reached out to officials to gain more information.

“I’m doing what I can to find solutions,” FourStar said.

He has put topics on the agenda for the next state tribal legislative committee meeting. FourStar is a city council member in Wolf Point.

“I’m doing anything I can to stop human trafficking and overdose deaths,” he said.

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