According to CBS News, statistics show Native American communities see a disproportionate amount of violence and missing persons cases.
“More than 82% of American Indian and Alaska Native men and women reported experiences of violent victimization in their lifetime, according to the Congressional Research Service in January 2022. Similarly, Native Americans are also reported missing at higher rates than the general U.S. public, with at least 9,575 reported missing cases in 2020, according to the National Crime Information Center.” – CBS
When a Native American is murdered or disappears on one of the 324 federally recognized reservations across the United States, the majority of these cases fall within federal jurisdiction.
CBS reports that in recent years, families of missing and murdered Indigenous people have pushed federal authorities and legislators to address the crisis. Grassroots advocates join those families in the fight.
“Those federal authorities — like the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs — are responsible for investigating major crimes as a result of the nearly 400 treaties the United States government signed with Native tribes since 1787, when the federal government pledged to protect Native people, according to Stephen Pevar, author of “The Rights of Indians And Tribes” and an expert on Indian Law.
And crimes in these jurisdictions are prosecuted by the United States Attorneys throughout the country. But according to a recent Justice Department report, prosecutors in 2018 declined to prosecute almost 40% of all federal Indian Country cases – representing almost 1,000 potential federal crimes – citing “insufficient evidence” as the most likely reasoning.” – CBS Report
“This means in that one year there was no justice for the victims of the alleged 73 murders, 373 physical assaults and 279 sexual assaults in Indian Country.”
For more than a year, CBS News tracked the federal law enforcement investigation into the death of Christy Woodenthigh, a 33-year-old mother of three who lived on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeast Montana.
Missing: Aubrey Dameron of Grove, Oklahoma
25-year-old Aubrey Dameron from Grove was last seen on March 9, 2019. Authorities in Delaware County, Oklahoma continued following up on leads into the missing person case.
However, Dameron’s Aunt Pamela Smith was concerned about the search when speaking with KOAM at the time. In 2019, authorities were following up on a lead at a pond. KOAM spoke with Smith after that search.
Dameron was reported two days after going missing, but Smith says authorities didn’t respond how she thought they would.
“Basically there was nothing done the first week because they believed she wasn’t a missing person due to her lifestyle,” explains Smith. “So that is hard. It’s hard to have a hundred percent trust in them following up with everything we send them. I wish that they would have taken her case seriously from the moment she was reported missing.”
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