A few years ago, we wanted to call attention to the rates of missing and murdered Indigenous womxn and girls in Alaska by reading the names of loved ones lost. The beginning of the database collection started because our organizations and community members wanted to call for justice but did not have the data to work off of.
Federal, state and local agencies all track missing and murdered Indigenous people (MMIP) cases differently which creates large disparities in data. These data gaps are apparent when family members of loved ones submit requests for information on their loved one or when organizations such as DIJ request to obtain any information.
Organizers like Data for Indigenous Justice’s executive director Charlene Aqpik Apok began grassroots efforts to compile community-sourced MMIP cases. Presently, local organizations work alongside Data for Indigenous Justice to address the data gaps, create needed policy change, infiltrate public safety commissions while working in direct response to the needs of our communities.
To this day, Data for Indigenous Justice has one of the most comprehensive amounts of data for the state of Alaska. This data is informed directly by the community that fills the gaps of where system issues have persisted.
DIJ executive director Charlene Aqpik Apok is now one of four Alaska Native womxn serving on the Anchorage Public Safety Commission to address the needed policy change and the inadequate way in which state and local police departments keep track of race pertaining to MMIP cases. This is one step in bridging the gap.
Data for Indigenous Justice is the first Indigenous-led organization to collect missing and murdered data in Alaska. Other national organizations include the Urban Indian Health Institute and Sovereign Bodies Institute, organized similarly in obtaining data directly from the community.
The purpose of our organization is to steward and take care of all of the data regarding our missing and murdered Indigenous persons in our Alaska Native community. We do this through stewardship, cultural values and honoring our ancestors past and present in all of the work that we do.