The Snowbird Fund
The Snowbird Fund directly supports community searches for missing Indigenous people in Montana.
Montana continues to face a devastating and often overlooked crisis.
- Each year Indigenous women and girls go missing in Montana, often never to be found.
Native Americans are 6.7% of the state population but account for 26% of missing persons cases.
Almost every Indigenous person in Montana living on tribal land knows a friend, relative, or community member who has had a loved one go missing. Lack of resources and jurisdictional issues means their cases often go cold, and families and communities are left to search for the loved ones they've lost, often at their own expense. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) epidemic, which has been a problem for decades, continues to spread across Montana Native communities and the nation.
Support the Snowbird Fund and help combat this growing crisis.
Help families find their loved ones.
One of the most tangible and effective ways to support Montana Native communities is by directly supporting families and community members searching for their loved ones. Searches can be costly and time-consuming, and this has a deep impact on families who have to fund the searches themselves, often with very limited resources. Native communities in Montana often face staggering poverty rates - 34% compared to the general population at 13%.
The Snowbird Fund directly supports Montana Native families as they conduct their own community searches by providing direct payments to families or individuals leading the search for their missing loved ones. Your gift to the Snowbird Fund helps to provide the resources individuals require to conduct a thorough search. Your donation will help us fund:
- Gas money, meals, and hotel stays as they search across the state
- Cell phone payments
- Tools, like metal detectors and drones
- Conducting a targeted awareness campaign
- Hosting a community vigil
How to Apply for Assistance
For individuals and families looking for assistance from the fund, please visit our grants page to learn more and apply.
Background on the Fund
The Snowbird Fund was established by Montana businesswoman Whitney Williams. Whitney opened the fund at the Montana Community Foundation after hearing from family members impacted by MMIP, including a Crow tribal member, Grace Bulltail, whose 18-year-old niece, Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, was found murdered in Big Horn County in August 2019. The name of the fund references the Blackfeet name Snowbird "Issstotsistakii" given to Whitney by Marvin Weatherwax, Sr. of Browning, a member of the Blackfeet Nation and her instructor at the University of Montana where Whitney helped to establish the first native language program and received a minor in Native American Studies. Marvin said he gave Whitney the name because snowbirds (Juncos) are resilient and smart birds that don't leave Montana in the winter.