Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 11/18/2018, 11:23 AM
Edited: 07/28/2022, 8:26 PM

VNN's MISSING AND MURDERED segment premiered on VNN on October 29, 2018 with "The Case of Britney Tiger Part 1". MISSING AND MURDERED: The Case of Britney Tiger Part 2 will air Monday, November 19. You can find the results of the research conducted for the segment below. 


According to the latest US Census Bureau statistics, American Indian and Alaska Natives make up about 1.25 percent of the United States’ total population, at about 4.1 million.

In 2003, the National Institute of Justice started funding efforts to get more out of DNA technology in regards to the investigation of missing and unidentified person cases. A couple years later, The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) was created to improve access to information.

As of October 2018, there were 14,874 missing persons listed on the NamUs website, out of 651,226 people the FBI lists as missing, or 2.28 percent of the FBI’s total listed cases. 320 of the missing persons (2.15 percent) on NamUs were listed as Native Americans, 118 (.79 percent) were listed as Native American females.

NamUs listed 244 total missing persons in Oklahoma. 29 were listed as Native American.  That is .2 percent of nationwide missing, but a whopping 11.88 percent of Oklahoma missing.    

Of course, the percentage of Native Americans is higher in Oklahoma compared to the rest of the country, making up 9.2 percent of Oklahoma’s population.

There were 118 Native American females missing nationwide on NamUs (.79 percent of nation’s total missing), and 11 Native American females missing in Oklahoma (4.5 percent of Oklahoma’s total missing). Thus, according to this data, Native American females in Oklahoma go missing 5.7 times the rate that Native American females go missing nationally.   

But, Oklahoma’s Native Alliance Against Violence has 19 Native American females listed on their website, eight of which are not listed on NamUs. When taking those additional missing females into account, Native American females in Oklahoma go missing 7.5 times the rate that Native American women go missing nationally.   

Some officials say that number is still a gross underestimate of the true disappearances of Native women, based on obstacles such as lack of reporting, lack of funding, proximity to law enforcement, whose jurisdiction the crime falls under and how the crime can be prosecuted.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP) in 2015 so tribes could have access to national crime information to give them more support to report and solve crimes. But out of 573 federally recognized Indian Nations, there only 47 tribes with agencies participating in TAP.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced Savanna’s Act in 2017 to create an Amber alert warning system to help stop Native American abductions.

“Law enforcement agencies across the board need to collect and keep better data on missing and murdered Native women and children, and we need to provide more federal resources to attack the problem head-on,” Heitkamp said, after it was introduced.

No further action was taken on the bill since its initial hearings a year ago.  


The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said they had 246 murders in 2017. That is broken down into 119 white people murdered, 100 black people murdered, 15 Native American people murdered and 3 Asian people murdered. 197 were male, 49 were female.  

The highest percentage of people murdered based on race and population size was black people, who make up 40.7 percent of the murders but only 7.8 percent of the population (5.2 to 1). Next are Native Americans who make up 6.1 percent of the murders and 9.2 percent of the population (.66 to 1). Then it’s white people who made up the largest amount of murder victims at 48.4 percent, but who by far make up the largest percent of the population at 74.3 percent (.65 to 1). Finally are Asian murder victims, listed as 1.2 percent of the murders at 2.3 percent of the population (.52 to 1).

Let’s take a look at how this compares to the national numbers.

The FBI lists 15,129 murders committed in 2017.

Of that, 43 percent of the victims were white, 51 percent of the victims were black, 3 percent of the victims were listed as “other race” (which includes Native American and Asian) and 1.6 percent of the victims were listed as unknown.

Nationwide, the highest percentage of people murdered based on race and population size was still black people at 13.35 percent of the population (3.82 to 1), followed by white people at 76.63 percent of the population (.56 to 1) and other races (including American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander) at 7.31 percent of the population (.41 to 1).

When you combine Native American murder and Asian murder ratios for Oklahoma to accommodate the FBI combining them together, the result is 7.3 percent of murders and 11.5 of the population (.63 to 1).   

Comparing Oklahoma’s OSBI data to FBI data, Oklahoma has higher ratios for murder victims to population totals across the board compared to the rest of the nation, with significant increases for all except white murders victims.   

In other words, black people and Native American people are killed at a significantly higher rate per capita in Oklahoma compared to the rest of the nation.  

Past DOJ reports have concluded that murder rates against American Indian and Alaska Native women are over ten times the national average in some tribes nationwide.  


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