On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, the Missoula Democrats hosted a program about a feature length documentary called, "When They Were Here," regarding the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) crisis. The producers, Ivan and Ivy MacDonald, are Blackfeet and Shoshone filmmakers enrolled in the Blackfeet tribe. They have spent over a year documenting this crisis. The documentary shares many personal stories about families affected, including how Ivan and Ivy's "cousin, 7-year-old Monica Still Smoking, was found frozen on a mountain on the Blackfeet Reservation in 1979." Reporter Patrick Reilly from the Missoulian ran a story about the evening.

American Indians are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of violent crimes—and at least twice as likely to be raped or sexually assaulted—compared to all other races. It is time to take action!

Here are three actions you can take to help:

  1. Contribute to the completion of the documentary at whentheywerehere.com 
  2. Support MMIWG legislation in the Montana state legislature. Specifically, Hanna's Act, HB 21 and a related bill HB 54, which would improve law enforcement action on missing persons. Contact your state legislators by calling (406) 444-4800 or sending an online message
  3. Support MMIWG legislation in Congress. Click here for some background information from Sen. Tester's office.
    • Sen. Tester: (406) 728-3003 or online
    • Sen. Daines: (406) 549-8198 or online
    • Rep. Gianforte (406) 502-1435 or online

Senator Tester is supporting the reintroduction of Savanna’s Act (S.227), which would improve information sharing between tribal, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and tracking crimes against Native Americans. He is also supporting the reintroduction of the SURVIVE Act (S. 211), which would provide critical funding to Indian victims of crime. He has also introduced his own bill to direct the Government Accountability Office to study current federal agency response protocols for missing Indigenous people and recommend solutions to address this crisis.

Thank you to Roberta Crane for organizing the program, Karen Wickersham for publicizing the event, and many other Missoula Democrats who lent a hand. For more information, please email us at [email protected].


David Kendall


Senior Fellow for Health & Fiscal Policy, Third Way. Serious policy wonk, but I love a good laugh. Science aficionado. Proud husband and father.