Human resources

Families of missing or murdered natives seek more resources

PHOENIX — For the hundreds of people dressed in red at the Arizona State Capitol on Thursday, the theme was “more silence.”

During one march, a surviving family member shouted “no more stolen sisters” loudly as it echoed.

Organizers estimate that half of those on Capitol Hill Thursday who sought to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Day have someone in their lives who has been killed or has not yet been found.

Like Katrina Yazzi from Parker, Arizona.

Yazzi says she is the voice of her late cousin, Molina ‘Shaggy’ Yazzie.

She tells us that in 2017, Molina left with a friend and disappeared for a month.

Katrina thinks the police didn’t pay enough attention to her cousin’s case.

“The officer said she didn’t want to be found,” she said.

So she and her family searched for themselves.

A month after her disappearance, Molina’s body was found in a field.

“It’s hard, but sharing his story makes me strong to share it and raise awareness,” she said.

Katrina says police determined the cause of Molina’s death was a drug overdose, but the family says her body was found without eyes and was missing three fingers on one of her hands.

The family believes Molina was murdered.

A story like this is common for surviving Indigenous families across the country.

The Urban Indian Health Institute in Seattle measures that homicide is the third leading cause of death among Native American women, and Native women face rates of violence up to 10 times higher than the national average.

“Helping families find loved ones, because it was necessary…”

Valaura Imus-Nahsonhoya has launched her own counseling service that ranges from helping victims of assault to organizing searches for missing persons and even rescuing people caught in human trafficking.

During a workshop, she told a room of people that she helps families search for loved ones because she “had to”.

She says it’s common for native people to get injured when trying to seek opportunities like a job or college away from home on the reservation.

Her hope with outreach events like the one at the Capitol on Thursday gives families an idea of ​​the independent services available to them.

If there was an immediate solution to finding missing people, Imus-Nahsonhoya wants more police resources to be available to help families in need.

“One of the things that we learned in our study here in Arizona, these [missing people] the databases are not communicating.”

Sharing the story of what happened to her cousin in 2017 is not an easy story for Katrina to share, but telling others about what happened to her and how she had to conduct her own research is part of it. effort to be “silent”. , no more” for murdered and missing natives.

“Be there for them, because they are gone,” she said.