The Urban Health Indian Institute has compiled a list of more than 2,500 Native American women who have been murdered or are missing in the United States. The group says they believe that it is even more because major United States cities with large Native American populations, like Albuquerque and Billings, Montana, refused to cooperate with the study.
Lawmakers Want to Know Why
Lawmakers want to know why no one is investigating their disappearances more vigorously. Most of the disappearances have occurred on Native American reservations in North Dakota and Montana. That is a rate 10 times the national average, and they are four times more likely than others to be raped. Native American women are likely to experience violence in their lifetime at a rate 92 percent higher than others living in the United States.
There is enough blame to go around is the sentiment, expressed by Kimberly Loring-Heavy Runner, in testimony in front of the United States Senate. Her sister, Ashley, disappeared in 2017. She says that her sister disappeared. She does not believe that she ran away because she was waiting for her sister. Then, she was supposed to move in with her. Ashley’s long-term plan was to start college soon. The family went to the tribal police with their report. Yet, over four months later, the tribal police had not talked to the family.
Body Found After Testimony
It was not until much later that she discovered that her sister’s disappearance had not been entered into the United States Department of Justice database. Just one day after Kimberly’s disappearance, authorities found remains on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. Those remains have been shipped to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Virginia for identification. It is unknown currently if these are Ashley’s remains.
Missing Larissa Lone Hill
In another case, Larissa Lone Hill, who sometimes goes by Rissa or Lisa, came up missing near Wounded Knee, South Dakota. The young woman had left with her boyfriend after a minor family feud. She texted a family member three days later, but she was never seen again. At the time of her disappearance in 2016, she left behind her one-year-old daughter.
Families Say Crimes Not Investigated
In other cases, like Mariah High Hawk, a body is eventually recovered. Families feel that authorities do nothing to very little to investigate the crime. Authorities found High Hawk’s body under a utility trailer. The Rapid City Police Department says that they believe she died of hypothermia. Yet, Mariah’s family insists that the police are ignoring signs that someone murdered her.
As a first step at helping to stop more Native American women from disappearing and ending up murdered, the United States Department of Justice has set up a $113 million grant program to improve tribal law enforcement. The funding comes from many different federal agencies. These include the Office of Justice Programs, the Office of Violence Against Women and the Office of Community Orientated Policing Services. The United States Department of Justice has also created a $133 million set aside to serve Native American families affected by crime.