Native American women and girls know their heritage puts them at risk. They tell each other to take care. They all know it is easy for someone to take them and kill them and get away with it.
Preyed upon by attackers, rapists and killers familiar with the empty reaches of reservations, the patchwork of jurisdictions, the disregard of some and the silence of others, they are in danger just for being a Native woman or girl.
The statistics are grim.
A report from the National Institute of Justice found that more than four out of five Native American women have experienced violence in their lives. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control reported that homicide is the third leading cause of death among Native American women between the ages of 10 and 24. The Department of Justice has reported Native American women are 10 times more likely to be murdered than other Americans.
On the 1.3-million-acre Yakama Reservation, women have passed down stories from as far back as the mid-1800s of rape and murder by miners, by soldiers, by other outsiders. The passage of time does not diminish the terror of these assaults, which continue today.
No one knows exactly how many Native girls and women have gone missing on or near the Yakama reservation.
Many cases of missing people or mysterious deaths of women and men remain unsolved. During an FBI investigation spurred by rumors of a serial killer, investigators found as many as 32 cases dating back to 1980.
But some women are ending their silence. What has been known and considered normal is no longer tolerable.
They want action.
The work has begun, but it’s a steep climb. There is virtually no record of exactly how many indigenous women are missing in Washington and the United States. Legislation signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2018 is designed to find ways of better reporting and investigating cases of missing Native women, and other states are following suit.
Much work still needs to be done to protect Native women, and many questions must be answered. It’s a start, supporters say ̶ a start that encourages those who still wonder what happened to their loved ones and hope to save others.
They are missing and murdered Native women and girls, mothers and grandmothers, daughters and sisters, aunties, friends.
They have names. They have stories. And they are no longer invisible.
Dozens of women have disappeared in and around the Yakama reservation
For families a long search and a lonely vigil, with little help.
One effort to make sure the state starts to pay attention to this problem.
What to know and who to call if someone you know vanishes.
More than 40 people stood on a slushy sidewalk in Toppenish in remembrance of the Indigenous people who have been murdered or have gone missing on and around the 1.3-million-acre Yakama Reservation over decades.
TOPPENISH — Family and friends of missing and murdered Indigenous people will gather Wednesday to remember and honor them.
A state high school track champion who runs for missing and murdered Indigenous women has signed a national letter of intent to compete for the University of Washington.
Caroline Looney stood with six others on the morning of Sept. 3 to honor two men whose remains had been found nearby a few weeks earlier.
A lawmaker from the Yakima Valley is urging federal authorities open a cold case task force office in Central Washington focused on missing and murdered Indigenous people.
After working for the Spokane Tribe of Indians for more than 20 years, Dawn Pullin has a new job.
A leader in the Spokane Tribe has been hired by Washington State Patrol as its first Eastern Washington tribal liaison, one of two positions created to help address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
A former Nez Perce police chief has been selected to serve as the Washington state coordinator for cases involving missing and murdered indigenous people.
Two bills addressing murdered and missing Indigenous women co-sponsored by Washington lawmakers have been signed into law.
Friday marked two years to the day that Rosenda Sophia Strong, a 31-year-old mother of four, left her sister’s home in Toppenish, never to be seen alive again.
Unanimous passage Monday by the U.S. House of Representatives sends two bills addressing the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis to President Donald Trump for his signature.
MINNEAPOLIS — Ivanka Trump and Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt visited a Minneapolis suburb on Monday to open an office dedicated to investigating cold cases involving missing and murdered Indigenous peoples.
A letter to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives urges action on legislation to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women before Congress breaks for its August recess.
TOPPENISH — Cissy Strong Reyes has organized several events to remember her younger sister, Rosenda Sophia Strong. Reyes often greeted many who came with a hug and a little close conversation.
TOPPENISH — A small gathering to remember a Native woman who was murdered is scheduled Sunday, a year to the day after remains found earlier in the month were identified as hers.