Colorado becomes early state to introduce alert system for missing Indigenous people

Colorado has become one of the first states to roll out an alert system for missing Indigenous people.

Colorado has become one of the first states to roll out an alert system for missing Indigenous people. (KCNC)

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DENVER — Colorado has become one of the first states to roll out an alert system for missing Indigenous people.

The alerts went live on Dec. 30 and are part of the same legislation that created a statewide office and liaison for missing or murdered Indigenous relatives.

"All of our relatives have been murdered and not found, buried," said Daisy Bluestar, with the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Relatives Taskforce of Colorado.

She has lost her own family members to the cold case files, but she calls all Indigenous victims her relatives.

"The Native American community has the highest rate for murders and missing people," Bluestar said.

Many of those victims don't receive justice. The Bureau of Indian Affairs estimates there are over 4,000 unsolved Indigenous missing and murder cases.

Just weeks ago, a pregnant Indigenous woman, Raeanna "Nikki" Burch-Woodhull, was killed in southern Colorado.

"The first night it got reported, the police didn't take it seriously," Bluestar said, "She had been missing for five days and within those five days, the very first night she had been missing was the night she was murdered." Bluestar and the task force put up missing posters for Woodhull.

"Throughout Indian America we use Facebook and we use paper and we use these old techniques of looking for our people," said Bluestar.

Now Bluestar hopes an alert system that she advocated for will bring more families justice.

"Our legal system, the police, it's gonna apply pressure to make sure that they step up the minute they get a missing person's report," said Bluestar.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation now issues alerts for missing Indigenous persons, similar to those for missing seniors or endangered missing people.

The alerts will go out to the public through law enforcement, media, and Colorado Department of Transportation message signs. If the missing person is an abducted child, an Amber Alert will be sent out.

"We get that alert system to our phones or to the news I feel like things are gonna be taken more seriously," Bluestar said.

The alert features the missing person's picture, name and description. Along with any other relevant details and which law enforcement agency to contact if you have any information.

The alerts won't automatically pop up on your phone like an Amber Alert, the alert instantly goes to all Colorado law enforcement, while media and the public can sign up for email alerts.

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