Coalition works to help MMIP, Indigenous community

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Today is the final day of the National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.

The New Mexico FBI says from July 2022 to April 2023, more than 650 people have been reported missing to law enforcement in the state of New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation. Out of those 600 people, around 200 are still missing today in New Mexico, and were moved to the long-term missing list.

KOB 4 spoke to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women about their work, and how they help the Indigenous community. 

“We want to uplift the marginalized voices and the things that these families are experiencing if they have a missing, or murdered loved one,” said Jolene Holgate, with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women.

For more than 25 years, the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women has been doing just that. They work with providers on how to help Indigenous people who have experienced violence. 

“Overall, a lot of our work is to address gender-based violence, protecting women and children, as well our gender expansive relatives, and bringing our men and boys into the conversation of anti-violence work,” said Holgate. 

Storytelling workshops also help empower families to tell their stories and find answers.

“We did things around press releases, how to do talking points, even doing interviews such as this to help families,” Holgate said.  

Even with their work, Holgate says there’s still gaps that make it difficult for families to find justice.

“There was a case out near Kirkland, New Mexico where a family had to call three different agencies because they didn’t know who to file a missing person’s report with. So it becomes a very discouraging process as well,” said Holgate.

A problem that the FBI also noticed when they started doing this work last year. Now, they help local departments better serve families.

“Providing that training that local law enforcement would need. Whether that’s sensitivity training, which was specifically asked for in the action plan, or even working with families,” said FBI Intelligence Analyst Donald Metzmeier.  

Metzmeier says families can reach out to the FBI if they are having trouble getting a loved one on the official missing persons list. 

“There is no 24-hour rule to where you can report a loved one missing to local law enforcement. They would rather clear someone within an hour if you think something is suspicious,” said Metzmeier. 

People can always go to the coalition for help. The Department of Indian Affairs also has resources on their website for families that are missing a loved one.