A recent report from the Sovereign Bodies Institute found Salt Lake City to be in the top ten cities for cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Utah Must Lead the Way: Ending the Violence on Indigenous Relatives is a campaign that addresses the silence and ignorance, ensuring that we as Utah residents understand the critical need to create comprehensive and holistic change in our communities as a path to honoring and protecting our Indigenous Relatives. We must address symptoms of settler colonialism such as: land-dispossession, poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, rape, trafficking and environmental racism.  

an overview on the Missing and Murdered Crisis


Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, & Two-Spirits

A 2016 National Institute of Justice report shows that 4 in 5 Native women (84.3%) will experience violence in their lifetime. Of that 84.3% of women, 56% of those violent experiences are sexual and 55% are physical. Among Native youth alone, more than 60% have been recently exposed to violence in different sectors of their lives – at home, school, and within their community. Additionally, in some reservation the homicide rate is 10 times the rate of the national average. 

A 2019 Center for Disease Control report shows that homicide is the 2nd and 3rd leading cause of death for Native American girls ages 1 to 4 and 5 to 9 respectively. It also reports homicide is the 3rdleading cause of death for Native American women ages 20 to 24.

The Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics report the homicide rate for Native Americans in Utah is 8.3 per 100,000, four times the rate for White at 2 per 100,000. 

The National Crime Information Center reports 5,712 incidents of missing Native American women, girls, and LGBTQ in 2016. 

Multiple Pathways to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Utah

  • Domestic Violence – Native youth who see violence in the home are 75% more likely to become a future victim of violence or a perpetrator. And according to the Indian Health Service data, violence accounts for 75% of deaths for Native youth, 12-20 years of age. 

  • Sexual Violence – More than 1 in 3 Native American women (39.8%) experienced violence in the last year. 14.4% experience sexual violence. 11.6% experienced stalking.

  • Sex Trafficking – The Garden of Truth (2009) study on trafficking of Native Women is the only study that exists. It reports, 39% were trafficked before the age of 18; 37% were used by more than 500 men; 84% physically assaulted while being “used.” This is underestimated and anecdotal evidence suggests a disproportionate rate

Factors Underlying Pathways

  • Prior victimization – 84.3% of Native American women experienced violence at least once in their lifetime. 
  • Child maltreatment – 11.4/100,000 experience abuse and neglect compared to 9.1 for national rate; 59.7% of Native American children confirmed as victims of neglect.
  • Family and Community Poverty – In Utah, 12.4% unemployment rate for Native Americans; 28.4% Native American live below federal poverty line; 54.7% of single mothers with children live below federal poverty line. High unemployment rates in reservations, (e.g. Navajo Nation 55% ).
  • State, federal, and county data management systems not properly tracking crimes against Native Americans.
  • Complicated jurisdiction regimes (federal-state-tribal) make it difficult to prosecute crimes against non-native perpetrators. 


The Sovereign Bodies Institute estimates, from their on-going investigation, that there are 34 cases of missing and murdered in Utah. 

The Murder Accountability Project estimates 50% of homicides of Native Americans in Utah are NOT properly/accurately reported. 

Natural resource extraction activities could increase the chances of Native American women, girls, and LGBTQ+ to be trafficked, murdered, or go missing. A recent (2020) study in the Navajo Nation found a strong connection between fracking and sex trafficking. 

Anecdotal evidence points to a larger phenomena in Utah that current data is not able to illustrate.