Tribal Government & News
BIA launches website to find missing and murdered Indigenous people
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Bureau of Indian Affairs has created a new website dedicated to solving missing and murdered cases in Indian Country.
The website is designed to draw attention to unresolved cases involving Indigenous people that the BIA, Office of Justice Services or Missing and Murdered Unit are working on and invites the public to help law enforcement solve the cases.
“The missing and murdered Indigenous peoples crisis has plagued Indian Country for too long, with cases often going unsolved and unaddressed,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said. “This new website represents a new tool in the efforts to keep communities safe and provide closure for families.”
There are currently 19 cases listed on the site, bia.gov/service/mmu/missing-murdered-open-cases, which launched Friday, Dec. 10.
Missing Grand Ronde Tribal member Heather Cameron is not among the listed cases. She has been missing since August 2012 from a remote area near Redding, Calif., under suspicious circumstances.
The BIA did not return a request for more information regarding criteria for a case to be listed on the website, but preliminary research indicates that since Cameron did not go missing on Tribal or federal land, the case is continuing to be handled by Shasta County Sheriff’s Office.
On the day of her disappearance, Cameron called 911 three times from her ex-boyfriend Daniel Lusby’s cell phone near the remote Keswick Dam area in Shasta County, saying she had been drugged and needed help. A male voice was audible in the background, according to police reports.
Police conducted an extensive, multi-agency search, according to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office. Lusby was interviewed as a primary person of interest in the case on three separate occasions, but never arrested.
Although Cameron is not listed on the BIA site, she is included in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons report compiled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.
The report, released in February 2021, was the first to be completed by any U.S. Attorney’s Office since the Justice Department began a new program, nicknamed Operation Lady Justice, to address the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans.
The Oregon report provides Tribes, law enforcement and the public with an overview of current cases as well as the Attorney’s Office plans to address the crisis.
Although Cameron went missing in California, she is included as part of the Oregon data because she is a member of an Oregon Tribe, according to the report.
During report research, it was discovered Cameron was still listed as “white” in the California Missing Person Clearinghouse, which is a racial misclassification. These gaps in data can often lead to inaccurate and underreporting of how many Indigenous people are missing and murdered nationwide. The information has since been corrected to list Cameron as Indigenous.
Cameron is also listed as a missing person on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Systems, which is linked to the BIA’s new website.
According to an Urban Indian Health Institute’s 2016 report, 95 percent of the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls’ cases never receive national or international news coverage.
Other chilling statistics are included in a National Institute of Justice baseline research study on violence against Native American and Alaska Native women. It included information regarding domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking and murder, and also evaluated the effectiveness of federal, state, Tribal and local responses to violence against these women.
The report, released in May 2016, found that 84.3 percent have experienced violence in their lifetime, including sexual, physical, stalking and psychological aggression. Also, 39.8 percent have experienced these types of violence in the past year.
Compared to non-Hispanic, white women, Native American and Alaska Native women are 1.2 times more likely to have experienced violence during their life, and 1.7 times more likely to have experienced it during the past year, the study found.
The study further found that medical care was the most common service needed by the victims of lifetime violence. Among the women seeking services, 38 percent were unable to get the help they needed.
If anyone has information on the Heather Cameron case, contact the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office at 530-245-6025 and refer to case number 201227344.