BROWNING — Matthew Grant moved from Canada to Browning in October 2016. He wanted a better life for himself. “To him, America was a better place, a better home, and a better family life,” Matthew’s aunt Rhonda Grant-Connelly said.
The 21-year-old man was reported missing in Browning on December 15, 2016 during a winter storm. His body was found in an alley in the Glacier Homes community north of Browning on December 31, 2016.
More than five years later, there have been no arrests in the murder of Matthew Grant.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) crisis is one that has troubled reservations all over the country for decades. Awareness for MMIP has increased over the last few years, but cases still go unreported or are misclassified due to lack of information or late reporting.
That’s where the BIA comes in. The Missing and Murdered Unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services investigates missing and murdered cases in search of justice for those affected by violence.
As indigenous communities continue to struggle with high rates of assault, abduction, and murder, with Native Americans being four times as likely to go missing in the state of Montana, the need for investigative resources is as important as ever.
Statistics show that around 4,200 missing and murdered cases have gone unsolved nationwide, with over half of those being cases of Murder and Nonnegligent Homicide Offenses.
These cases often remain unsolved due to a lack of investigative resources available, making it difficult to confirm new information from witnesses, re-examine new or retained evidence, or review fresh activities of suspects.
The Not Invisible Act of 2020 was created to address this crisis. The Act brings together law enforcement, tribal authorities, and federal partners to study previous and current cases and consider solutions to the MMIP crisis.
Specifically, the Act appoints the BIA to coordinate prevention efforts and programs related to missing and murdered Native Americans. It also creates a new position within the Department of Interior dealing specifically with murder, trafficking, and missing Native Americans. In May 2021, the MMIP website was expanded to include Montana in hopes that crimes would be reported in a timely manner and the information added to the database would help create a solution to the MMIP crisis nationwide. Governor Greg Gianforte also recently established May 5 as MMIP Awareness Day in Montana to encourage collective action to end the MMIP crisis.
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