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Lone Bear family wants missing person protocol for tribes

August 10, 2018

NEW TOWN, N.D. (AP) — The family of an American Indian woman whose body was found in a lake nine months after she went missing wants to help develop a missing-person protocol for tribes.

Olivia Lone Bear, 32, of New Town, disappeared from the Fort Berthold Reservation in October. Her body was found this month in a pickup truck pulled from Lake Sakakawea. The FBI is investigating what happened to the mother of five children.

Her brother, Matthew Lone Bear, said it’s difficult in Indian Country to get a missing person search started.

“There’s a lot of red tape and hoops you have to jump through to even get (an investigation) rolling,” he said. “We want to kind of streamline that so it’s not so difficult.”

The North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission plans to discuss drafting missing person guidelines for tribes and other ways to improve searches, Executive Director Scott Davis told The Bismarck Tribune .

“The biggest thing for Indian Country is that ... there is not a template out there to follow,” he said. “I think we recognize that and we’re trying to craft a template, if you will, for missing persons.”

Davis said his office worked with Three Affiliated Tribes police in the search for Lone Bear, helping coordinate conference calls with various federal, state and tribal agencies. Commission officials plan to meet with tribal leadership soon to determine what can be improved.

“What did we do well, what didn’t we do well, what resources did we have, what resources do we need, is there a policy that prevented us from doing something?” he said.

Davis also would like to expand the state’s Silver Alert Notification system, which currently issues alerts for elderly and disabled people who are missing. He believes that if some type of alert had been issued in Lone Bear’s case, the outcome might have been different.

“Those first 48 hours are crucial,” he said.

Davis said tribes also need to assess the equipment and technology they have for search-and-rescue operations.

Matthew Lone Bear said the family is drafting its own protocol, but “we’re willing to work with anybody that’s willing to do this.”

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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