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Montana firm offers legal help with missing Native Americans

June 21, 2021 GMT

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Missoula law firm is offering no-cost legal advocacy for families of missing Native Americans, Kimberly Dudik and Associates has announced.

While attending listening sessions held by the Montana Department of Justice, Dudik said she heard Native American families express frustration with the reporting and investigative process.

“Through my work as an attorney I saw one thing I could contribute is access to legal services to help people navigate the system and to ensure the laws are being followed, families are being kept informed and if there’s anything going on that’s not up to those standards that we can address them,” Dudik told the Missoulian.

The program offers legal representation, advice and correspondence related to the investigations, help with records requests and aid in coordinating and collaborating with different entities involved in a case.

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The firm is partnering with the Snowbird Fund, which provides direct assistance to families conducting community searches for missing Native American families in Montana.

Native Americans make up 6.7% of the population in Montana, but account for about a quarter of the state’s missing people.

Montana has a missing Indigenous persons task force that is working to improve the reporting process and increase communication among governmental agencies involved in searches and investigations.