Reducing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Arizona Statewide Study in Partnership with the HB2570 Legislative Study Committee


  • Kathleen A. Fox Arizona State University
  • Christopher Sharp Arizona State University
  • Kayleigh Stanek Arizona State University
  • Turquoise Devereaux Arizona State University
  • Valaura Imus-Nahsonhoya
  • Sara Julian Arizona State University
  • Michelle Hovel Arizona State University
  • Cheston Dalangyawma Arizona State University
  • Traci Morris Arizona State University
  • Jacob Moore Arizona State University
  • Hallie White Southwest Center for Law and Policy
  • Dominique Roe-Sepowitz Arizona State University
  • Mak Mars Sexual Assault Systems Advocate and Advocacy Coordinator
  • Hilary Edwards Arizona State University
  • Morgan Eaton Arizona State University


homicide, victimization, MMIWG, MMIP, missing persons, women and girls


The murder and missing of Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) is an enduring national and international crisis in North America. The goal of this study is to expand knowledge about the prevalence of MMIWG and to identify culturally-accurate policy recommendations to reduce MMIWG. In 2019, the State of Arizona enacted legislation (HB 2570) which created a 23-person study committee charged with developing a statewide plan to reduce MMIWG.  Our research team worked in close collaboration with the study committee for 18 months in a coordinated effort to understand the scope of MMIWG.  Longitudinal homicide data (1978-2018) were examined from the Federal Bureau of Investigations Supplemental Homicide Reports as well as cross-sectional data from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.  Findings reveal that MMIWG has been occurring, and steadily increasing, over the past four decades in Arizona.  While Indigenous women and girls of all ages are at risk of MMIWG, the average age Indigenous females go missing or are murdered is age 33 and 31, respectively.  Geographic analysis of MMIWG cases reveal several hotspots throughout the state of Arizona, primarily among urban counties (57%).  Given these findings, our study presents culturally-accurate policy recommendations, in consultation with Tribal community partners, to reduce MMIWG.\

Author Biographies

Kathleen A. Fox, Arizona State University

Director, Arizona State University's Resarch on Violent Victimization lab

Christopher Sharp, Arizona State University

Member of Colorado River Indian Tribes. Director of Arizona State University's Office of American Indian Projects.

Kayleigh Stanek, Arizona State University

Doctoral student, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Turquoise Devereaux, Arizona State University

Member of Salish/Blackfeet. Project Coordinator, Arizona State University's Office of American Indian Projects

Valaura Imus-Nahsonhoya

Hopi Tribe.  Executive Director and Founder, Honwungsi Consulting Services.

Sara Julian, Arizona State University

Institute for Justice Research and Development

Michelle Hovel, Arizona State University

Member of Navajo Nation

Cheston Dalangyawma, Arizona State University

Member of Hopi Tribe

Traci Morris, Arizona State University

Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Executive Director, Arizona State University's American Indian Policy Institute

Jacob Moore, Arizona State University

Tohono O’odham Nation, Akimel O’odha, Lakota, Dakota. Associate Vice President, Tribal Relations, Arizona State University.

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, Arizona State University

School of Social Work

Mak Mars, Sexual Assault Systems Advocate and Advocacy Coordinator

Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and Fond Du Lac Ojibwe.

Hilary Edwards, Arizona State University

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

Morgan Eaton, Arizona State University

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice


Amnesty International. (2007). Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect women from sexual violence in the USA. (New York: Amnesty International USA, 2007). ISBN 9781887204477

Amnesty International. Indigenous Peoples. Accessed July 2, 2020,

Apok, C., Baker, S., Balandran, G., Bear Heels, B., Benally, M., Carpenter, T., DeFord, C., Ewenin, D., Fisher, A., Fixico, A., Green, D., Hayes, L., Horn, C., Ibarra, R., Lucchesi, A. H., Nagle, M.K., Onco, L.T., Peters, T.O., Piapot, L., …Woodward, M. (2019). MMIWG2 & MMIP Organizing Toolkit.

Archaeology Southwest. (2020). Patayan. Retrieved October 2019. Patayan Culture

Arizona Indian Gaming Association. (2019). Tribal Land & Casinos.

Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records. Arizona’s Chronology. Retrieved October 2019. Arizona's Chronology | Arizona State Library (

Bachman, R. (1992). Death and Violence on the Reservation: Homicide, Family Violence, and Suicide in American Indian Populations. Auburn House. ISBN: 0865690154

Bachman, R., Zaykowski, H., Kallmyer, R., Poteyeva, M., Lanier, C. (2008). Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and the Criminal Justice Response: What is known. National Institute of Justice. Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and the Criminal Justice Response: What Is Known | National Institute of Justice (

Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J. & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report (

Campbell, J.C. (2002). Health consequences of intimate partner violence. The Lancet, 359(9314), 1331-1336.

Center for Homeland Defense and Security. (2019, March 14). Unmasking the Hidden Crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women: Exploring Solutions to End the Cycle of Violence, Hearing before the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States of the Committee on Natural Resources, United States House of Representatives, One Hundred Sixteenth Congress, First Session, March 14, 2019. United States Congress.

Clark, J. F. (January 2021). Help for missing American Indian and Alaska Native children. Department of Justice, Journal of Federal Law and Practice, 69(1), 5-20.

Colton, H.S. (1938). Names of the four culture roots in the Southwest. Science, 87, 551-552. DOI: 10.1126/science.87.2268.551

Cross, R. (1998). American Indian Education: The Terror of History and the Nation’s Debt to the Indian Peoples. University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review, 21(4), 941-978. ISSN: 1527-5787

Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2017, March 13-24). 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women. United Nations.

Economic and Social Council. (2016, May 09-20). Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. [Report on the fifteenth session]. United Nations.

Fleming, J., & Ledogar, R. J. (2008). Resilience and Indigenous spirituality: A literature review. Pimatisiwin, 6(2), 47-64.

Fox, K.A. (2020). The murder and missing of Indigenous women and girls: New policies on an enduring crisis. Criminal Law Bulletin, 56(6), 1055-1082

Fox, K.A., Fisher, B.S., & Decker, S.H. (2018). Identifying the needs of American Indian women who sought shelter: A practitioner-researcher partnership. Journal of Family Violence, 33, 251-256.

Gordon, H. S. J., & Roberts, T. W. M. (January 2021). Missing or murdered Indigenous people: Culturally based prevention strategies. Department of Justice, Journal of Federal Law and Practice, 69(1), 47-70.

Hansen, J.G., & Dim, E.E. (2019). Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous People and the Imperative for a More Inclusive Perspective. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 10(1), 1. ISSN: 19165781

Hinton, A.L., Woolford, A., & Benvenuto, J. (2014). Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America. (1 ed.). Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN #9780822357636

Horse Brave Heart, Maria Yellow. (1998). The return to the sacred path: healing the historical trauma and historical unresolved grief response among the Lakota through a psychoeducation group intervention. Smith College Studies in Social Work 68(3), 287 305. DOI: 10.1080/00377319809517532

Ishisaka, N. (2021, September 27) Contrasting coverage of Gabby Petito case and missing and murdered Indigenous people shows ‘absolute injustice’. Seattle Times.

Karjane, H., Fisher, B., & Cullen, F. (2002). Campus Sexual Assault: How America’s Institutions of Higher Education Respond. Final Report, NIJ Grant # 1999-WA-XV-0008. Newton, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.

Leonhard, M. B. (March 2021). Criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country. Department of Justice, Journal of Federal Law and Practice, 69(2), 45-78.

Lucchesi, A. & Echo-Hawk, A. (2018). Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: A snapshot of data from 71 urban cities in the United States. (Seattle, WA: Urban Indian Health Institute).

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (2019). Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. content/uploads/2015/05/Fact_Sheet_Violence_Against_Aboriginal_Women.pdf

Native Women’s Association of Canada. (2015). Fact Sheet: Violence Against Aboriginal Women.

PBS Interactive. (2001). New Perspectives on the West: Francisco Vazquez de Coronado:

Perry, B. (2006). Nobody trusts them! Under- and over-policing Native Communities. Critical Criminology, 14(4):441-444. DOI: 10.1007/s10612-006-9007-z

Perry, B. (2009). Impacts of disparate policing in Indian Country. An International Journal of Research and Policy 19(3).

Rosay, A. (2016, June 1). Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men. National Institute of Justice.

Savana’s Act 2020, Pub. L No. 116-165, s. 227 – 116th Congress (2020). Retrieved from

Danielle C. Slakoff & Henry F. Fradella. (2019). Media messages surrounding missing women and girls: The “missing white woman syndrome” and other factors that influence newsworthiness. Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law and Society, 20, 80-102.

Stewart, M. L., Mow, T., Joe, S., Sanchez, C. O. P. P., Howkumi, K., Bosh, P., & Simmons, R. (March 2021). Victim services for Native families with missing loved ones. Department of Justice, Journal of Federal Law and Practice, 69(2), 27-43.

Trennert, R.A. (1979). Peaceably if they will, forcibly if they must: The Phoenix Indian School, 1890-1901. The Journal of Arizona History, 20(3), 297-322. ISSN: 00219053

Trennert, R.A. (1983). From Carlisle to Phoenix: The Rise and the Fall of the Indian Outing System, 1878-1930. Pacific Historical Review, 52(3), 267-291. DOI: 10.2307/3639003

Trennert, R.A. (1988). Victorian Morality and the Supervision of Indian Women Working in Phoenix, 1906-1930. Journal of Social History, 22(1), 113-128. ISSN: 00224529

United Nations. (2008, March). Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (United Nations, 2008).

U.S. Department of Justice. (2019, November 22). Attorney General William P. Barr Launches National Strategy to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. The United States Department of Justice.

U.S. Department of Justice (2020, January 29). Trump Administration Launches Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. The United States Department of Justice.

Wakeling, S., Jorgensen, M., Michaelson, S., & Begay, M. (2001, July). Policing on American Indian Reservations: A Report to the National Institute of Justice.