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Mother of murdered daughter from Blackfeet Tribe helping raise MMIP awareness

"I wanted to see my daughter's poster up for winning races. Not for being murdered."
Posted at 7:22 AM, May 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-06 13:06:12-04

BOZEMAN — May 5 is Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Awareness Day. On the Montana State University campus, the American Indian Hall held awareness events Friday morning.

“Can you tell me a bit about your daughter?” I asked Carlene OldPerson.

“Vandree? She was beautiful. She was loud. She was vibrant,” Carlene told me.


Carlene OldPerson is a member of the Blackfeet tribe. She tells me about her daughter Vandree, who was murdered in March of 2023. She was just 20 years old.

“My daughter’s death is being wrote off. Just being pushed. Who woke me up to it was the FBI. I thought they were going to handle it, but they just stood in my house, in my living room, and laughed at me. ‘Oh that goes on up here all the time,’” Carlene told me.

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Vandree OldPerson is just one of thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous people. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in 2016, 5,715 reports of missing Native American women and girls were established. Only 116 cases were logged into the national missing and unidentified persons system.

“I've talked to so many mothers that have given up because our authorities aren't gonna do nothing. Aren't gonna do justice,” says Carlene.

OldPerson spoke during Voices of Humanity and Hope, one of the events held in the American Indian hall Friday morning.

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“I think it’s important to be educated on the topic. So we can create awareness and create action from that. So we can get justice for the missing families and the missing relatives,” said Maleeya Knows His Gun.

Maleeya is the co-president of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Student Association. She tells me about the importance of holding events such as this.


“Definitely some hard conversations, but hard conversations that need to be heard. I think that's something we really wanted to highlight was the families' voices, because those are the most powerful,” says Maleeya.

Which is why Carlene OldPerson spoke about her daughter Vandree, in hopes of spreading awareness on this topic, and getting one step closer to justice for her daughter.

“We keep adding up. And we need to stop. This needs to stop. We need someone to step up,” says Carlene.