Snowbird fund supports missing indigenous persons search
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The recent announcement of the Snowbird Fund, www.snowbirdfund.org, which, with the help and administration of the Montana Community Foundation and a three-person review panel composed of Native Montanans, will provide direct financial assistance (no strings attached) to families and friends of missing
Indigenous persons so their families can immediately start a search before trails go cold.
The Snowbird Fund, created by Montana businesswoman Whitney Williams, directly supports Montana Native families by providing rapid-response financial assistance to families or individuals leading the search for their missing loved ones in urban and reservation areas.
The fund is an outgrowth of our review of the problem and listening to native families, who say they immediately need resources and aid to begin searches for missing loved ones.
The literature and overview of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons epidemic shows overlapping and confusing jurisdictional issues among law enforcement agencies and historic apathy have hindered investigations in Indian Country that is out of proportion to the native population in our state.
We applaud the work Montana lawmakers – especially the Legislature’s American Indian Caucus – have done to address this issue, such as the creation of the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force. We support the 2021 Legislature’s bills to extend the task force and bring more resources to this issue.
We, at the Snowbird Fund, are simply and quickly just trying to provide a little bit of money and hope to the families of missing indigenous persons. We appreciate the attention to this fund. It is also important to spread the word as far and wide as possible so that native families know about it and can contact us to receive resources.
Montana continues to face a devastating and often overlooked crisis. Each year indigenous women and girls go missing in Montana, often never to be found. Native Americans are 6.7 percent of the state population but account for 26 percent of missing persons cases. Almost every indigenous person in Montana living on tribal land knows a friend, relative, or community member who has had a loved one go missing. Lack of resources and jurisdictional issues means their cases often go cold, and families and communities are left to search for the loved ones they’ve lost, often at their own expense. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous People epidemic, which has been a problem for decades, continues to spread across Montana Native communities and the nation.