OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, local Native American groups are reminding Oklahomans that disappearances and murders continue to plague their relatives.

The murder rate for Native American women is more than 10 times the national average, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

“Missing and murdered indigenous people is an epidemic,” said Carmen Harvie, president of the Oklahoma state chapter of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.

Harvie said there are currently about 500 Native Americans in the state who are missing, or their murder is unsolved.

She explained further that indigenous cases aren’t taken as seriously as those of other races because of prejudices.

“Every case, no matter what lifestyle you have, they deserve equal media attention, equal missing reports need to be done,” she said. “If your loved one went missing you would want them to be found. Time is of the essence.”

Harvie losing her niece, Emily Sue Zanne Morgan in 2016 to homicide only grew her fire for the cause. The 23-year-old and her friend were found shot to death in a car at a vacant house in Bache, Oklahoma. The case remains unsolved.

“She was taken too soon,” Harvie said. “When you have family that has been murdered and then you feel like there hasn’t been any support for indigenous people, you find that you have to help others that are going through the same thing that you are, and you want to be that support system.”

In November 2021, Ida’s Law went into effect. 

It allows the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to coordinate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice to obtain federal funding and coordinate efforts to address the issue of missing and murdered indigenous persons in Oklahoma.

Anyone with tips on any missing or murdered indigenous person is asked to contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-522-8017 or email tips@osbi.ok.gov.