On any given day, there are about 100,000 people reported missing and as many as 600,000 missing throughout the year in the United States. Though many people are found alive and well, cases do go cold. The Justice Department helps track those investigations, new and old, with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Sysytem (NamUs.) It’s an online database that keeps record of missing people, unidentified and unclaimed bodies, and while it doesn’t have every single case filed to police, it tracks thousands.

However, some feel that one population doesn’t get as much attention: Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP.) According to its website, NamUs is working to close data gaps related to missing indigenous persons, and to ensure that every tribal law enforcement agency knows about and can use the NamUs program to help resolve cases,” it shares. “NamUs provides a tool for sharing and comparing case information across jurisdictional boundaries.”

As of May 2024, there are nearly 900 missing American Indian and Alaska Native people. Of those, only three cases are listed in NamUs from in Kansas, including:



  • Jay Shumate, who went missing on Jan. 17. 2016, in Erie, Kan.



The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) also tracks missing children’s cases. There is one case of a missing teen:


All of these cases have been featured on KAKE News’ Missing in Kansas, a daily investigative series profiling missing people.

The fear is that there are many more people who are missing from the indigenous community, especially Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG,) but those stories are not reported to law enforcement. Advocates also are concerned with the lack of media exposure to the stories.

According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, there were 5,712 cases of MMIWG in 2016, and of those, only 116 were logged in the DOJ database. “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that murder is the third-leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women and that rates of violence on reservations can be up to ten times higher than the national average,” a 2018 report from the UIHI details.

 Organizations like the Missing Murdered Indigenous Women USA aim to increase the awareness.


“MMIWUSA’s mission is to combat the widespread issue of violence against native people which leads to our people going missing and getting murdered,” a statement reads on its website. “Through our mission, MMIWUSA aims to serve indigenous families in the United States who are affected by violence and poverty. We also aim to protect those who are vulnerable to it in our communities through preventative measures. We serve those who are affected by the loss of a family member to the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and people (MMIW/P), and those who are at a broader disadvantage due to things like domestic violence, addiction, trafficking, the foster care system, and other issues that are prevalent in indigenous communities. We serve those who are experiencing the oppressive cycles of abuse and trauma caused by the history of colonial violence. We serve all native people, no matter whether they are on or off of their home reservation lands.”


The MMIW Wichita – KS Chapter aims to spread awareness on cases, including in its Facebook group of more than 1,300 people. Among the discussion on the forum are events, including a MMIW Awareness Walk from this past Saturday, May 4, 2024. The walk started at the Mid-America All-Indian Museum at 650 N. Seneca in Wichita. The event aimed to recognize all indigenous people. Jen Springwater Smith and Tashina Buffalohead said they want to bring awareness to human trafficking and all cases touching indigenous people.