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The Under-Reported Epidemic of Missing Indigenous Women in America

There is a horrific epidemic occurring as we speak, and unfortunately, not many people talk about it. Missing and Murdered Indigenous People and Women is a phenomenon that has struck states such as Wyoming heavily. This is a movement that creates awareness of the immense amount of Indigenous people that go missed and are murdered in America and demands further and more actions in response to these cases.

The movement has great passion due to its severity, and yet has not received much media coverage. The response to cases of indigenous people who go missing or have been murdered, has displayed a pattern in lack of awareness, coverage, and justice.

In recent months there has been a horrific missing person case. Gabby Petitio is a woman who disturbingly went missing in Wyoming on September 11, 2021, while cross-country road tripping. Her body was found about one to two weeks later. It is likely that you have heard about this case, because it swept the nation and captured much attention, included those from media outlets.

With the tragedy of Petito’s case, and the massive response that it caused, it begs the question; Why was there a difference in media coverage between Petito’s case and the cases of indigenous women? The drastic polarity in these responses is hard to deny. Many feel it is due to underlying racism and the public’s importance and valued attention being weighed towards a white woman going missing. While it does not take away the horror and deep sadness of Gabby’s story, there also lies in importance in the stories of hundreds of missing indigenous peoples.

One valuable source of information and statistics on this issue is found in a report given by the task force of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. It is the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People: Statewide Report Wyoming. The report will be attached at the bottom of the article.

In the way Gabby’s life was honored and the case was known, it is important that we share the same recognition for indigenous women that have gone missing in recent years.

Jade Wagon

Jade Wagon, 23, was a resident on the Wind River Reservation. Her body was found weeks after she had been missing. While the family believes she had been murdered and there was foul play involved, the police report claims she died from hypothermia and drugs.

Kiana Klomp
See third picture for Kiana Klomp

Kiana Klomp is 17 and has been missing for a year and a half. She ran away from home and ended up being seen with a man who is claimed to be a sexual predator. She was a member of the Tlingit Tribe.

Hanna Harris

Hanna Harris, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, was a woman who had been raped and murdered in 2013. Her birthday, May 5, was made the national day of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Khadijah Britton

Round Valley Tribe Member, Khadijah Britton who was 23, was said to have been abducted and forced into a car by her ex-boyfriend at gunpoint. She was last seen in 2018.

Ashley Loring Heavyrunner

Ashley was a member of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and went missing on June 5, 2017. She was 20 at the time, and her whereabouts are still unknown. Someone claimed they saw a woman running from a vehicle the night of her disappearance. Family members then found items claimed to be Ashley’s in the same area of the incident. Her family insists on large mismanagement of evidence and a lack of effort. There is an annual walk in honor of Ashley.

Olivia Lone bear

Olivia was 32 and went missing at Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. She was last seen in 2017 leaving a bar with friends. Her car was found submerged under a lake after she had been determined missing for many days. Her death was ruled unknown.

Selena Not Afraid

Selena, 16, was a member of the Crow Nation and Nakota Nation. She was last seen at a rest stop on I-90 on January 1, 2020. She was stranded with a friend at the rest stop and had wandered off, resulting in hypothermia and unfortunately passing. She was missing for 13 days.

Here is a link to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People: Statewide Report Wyoming:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lGNNwqfkEAazq7xyNPjm6DJcOReN9SrC/view

Citations

Cavallier, Andrea. “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Featured in Dateline NBC’s Missing in America and Cold Case Spotlight.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 23 Sept. 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/dateline/in-the-news/look-missing-murdered-indigenous-women-featured-dateline-nbc-s-missing-n1277762.

“Families of Missing and Murdered Native Women Ask: ‘Where’s the Attention for Ours?’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 24 Sept. 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/24/native-american-women-missing-murdered-media.

A second-year student studying Marketing with a minor in Graphic Design, from the suburbs outside of Philly. She is passionate about art and fashion, and loves spending time on campus drinking coffee, listening to music, and making memories with friends.
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