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When a Loved One Goes Missing: Resources for Families of Missing American Indian and Alaska Native Adults

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2021
17 pages

Intended primarily for the families and friends of missing American Indian and Alaska Native adults, who disproportionately experience this crisis in the United States, this guide provides information and resources that assist family members and friends in the search for and the aftermath of a missing adult loved one.


This guide suggests steps in searching for a missing loved one, how to cope with related trauma, and resources for assistance. Contact information for individualized assistance is provided. The guide first notes the importance of reporting to a law enforcement agency that a loved one is missing, so the expertise and resources for addressing such cases becomes available. Support should also be sought from Tribal coalitions and advocacy programs. Steps to take during the first days after a disappearance through 30 days or more into the search are outlined. This includes the types of information that should be collected and shared with law enforcement, notes to be maintained for one’s own records, ways to support the search, the creation of a missing person flyer, using social media, and contacting local media. Also discussed are intentional disappearance and confidentiality, as well as actions to take 30 or more days after a disappearance. Other major sections of this report discuss financial support for handling a missing loved one’s personal affairs, coping with trauma and grief stemming from the loved one being missing, accessing legal assistance, and caring for a returned loved one experiencing trauma related to the cause and consequences of her/his being missing. A separate section addresses the needs of missing persons who have been victimized by sex or labor trafficking.  18 annotated resource listings and appended supplementary information

Date Published: November 1, 2021