It is a cool autumn day and you just had one of the best days of your life. You saw your friends who you haven’t seen in a few months. You finally had the time to do some retail therapy, actually, it was more like window shopping. However, you do find a book series for a Christmas present. And you decide to buy it before the craziness comes.
As you make your way back home, you stop at a gas station to fill up before the next 4-hour drive. The cool air is so calming, you closed your eyes for a moment to take in all the happiness you feel. As you open your eyes you notice a black car parked in front of the gas station.
You think nothing of it as you walk into the store. Once, you come out of the store your gut starts to feel funny. But you think, “Maybe I shouldn’t have drank my Dutch Bros so fast,” with a slight giggle.
The music is on blast as you continue your journey home. As you make your way up the winding road you take a look in the rear view mirror and see the black car from the gas station. You think nothing of it because you’re so deep in your own world and caught up in your joyful feeling.
All of a sudden your gut starts to feel nauseous, as you notice that car is awfully close to yours. You take your foot slightly off the gas thinking maybe they will pass you.
But that wasn’t the case… for me.
Yes, this story is real. It’s my story of the day I was followed. I can’t even begin to tell you how terrified I was that night. Luckily, I got rid of the car following me but this memory is carved into my brain forever.
But doesn’t it make you wonder…
What could have happened? Would I be another missing or murder Indigenous woman? Would my case be solved? Or would it go unsolved, like so many do. If I called the police what would they have done? Would it just be another case to be pushed to the side because I am a woman? And an Indigenous woman?
Recently the Urban Indian Health Institute released a report which provided data on the Missing and Murder Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). This data gave a snapshot of 71 urban communities in the United States. To read the full report please click here.
Gallup, and Albuquerque, NM made the Top 10 Cities with the Highest Number of MMIWG cases. New Mexico made the Top State of the Highest Number of MMIWG cases.
Gallup, is a border town which is right next to the Navajo Reservation. Albuquerque is the largest city in NM and sits near Pueblo reservations.
These two places are where I call home.
Like I mentioned before many of these cases do go unsolved. However, they are many that are NOT in law enforcement records.
Gallup, NM sits at the Top 10 Cities with the Highest Number of MMIWG cases that are NOT in law enforcement records.
According to the report, “The National Crime Information Center reports that, in 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, though the US Department of Justice’s federal missing persons database, NamUs, only logged 116 cases.”
What? Only 116 were logged? This doesn’t make any sense!
In the “Challenges and Obstacles in Obtaining MMIWG Data,” which discusses how law enforcement handled their request for data of cases. To collect the data, researchers had to paid fees, which were costly in a few cases. Law Enforcement either provide some data, no data or still have the request pending. Even with the data collected, researchers found racial misclassification which caused more lack of data of how many MMIWG are missing from the data they have access too.
After, reading this report I never felt more at risk than before. I always knew to watch my surroundings, tell others where I’ll be going, what time I should be arriving, that I made it safely, give my friends and family’s phone numbers to my family before I leave. I have done what I could but that night when I was followed I felt like I didn’t do enough.
No one should feel this way…
What must we do to make this change? What are you doing to make this change? We need to be that change. We need to create awareness. We need to have a voice. We need to fight the government systems that works against us. Too long have we’ve been pushed to side. It’s time to end this.
Urban Indian Health Institute http://www.uihi.org
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report http://www.uihi.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Missing-and-Murdered-Indigenous-Women-and-Girls-Report.pdf