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A Descriptive Analysis of Missing and Murdered Native Women and Children in Nebraska, Barriers to Reporting and Investigation, and Recommendations for Improving Access to Justice

NCJ Number
Tara N. Richards, Ph.D. ; Emily Wright, Ph.D. ; Alyssa Nystrom ; Sheena L. Gilbert ; Caralin Branscum
Date Published
December 2021
63 pages

In this project, the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, representatives of Nebraska’s four Indian Tribes, and researchers at the University of Nebraska, Omaha partnered to conduct a statewide study to determine how to increase state criminal justice protective and investigative resources for reporting and identifying missing Native women and children in Nebraska.


The report identifies the distinctive challenges of reporting and investigating missing person cases that involve Native American missing persons. One challenge pertains to jurisdictional issues between tribal and non-tribal law enforcement agencies. A second challenge is the absence of policies, coordination, and relationships between tribal and non-tribal law enforcement agencies. The third challenge is racial misclassification when entering such cases into databases. In addressing these issues, the project 1) examined the scope of missing and murdered Native women and children in Nebraska; 2) identified barriers for reporting and investigating such cases; and 3) identified ways to create and sustain partnerships to increase the reporting and investigation of missing and murdered Native women and children in Nebraska. Sources of data and the methodology of this study are described. Analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data collected led to the identification of three main areas where improvements are needed in responding to cases of missing or murdered Native women and children. Recommendations pertain to 1) the replication and extension of research on this issue in additional states; 2) tribal and non-tribal law enforcement data collection and cooperation; and 3) improvement in the awareness of reporting options and mechanisms to Native communities and service providers. Under each of these three areas, recommendations for actions are listed. 12 tables, a listing of 6 scholarly products from the project, and 55 references