Dozens of tribal families gathered Friday in Concho to honor local Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes hosted the event in an effort to raise awareness about unsolved cases.
The issue of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women is finally gaining national attention, but many of these families have not had answers for years.
The list of murdered and missing continues to grow. This year, Oklahoma has added three Native women. Their families are speaking out, hoping to make a change through awareness.
"We never thought it would happen to our family," said Bobbie White Thunder, whose niece Shannon Kaye Tahlo was killed in a Colorado motel room 13 years ago.
Shannon's five kids all have kids now, and her aunt said the FBI still has not solved her case.
"Her children are still trying to deal with her death," White Thunder said. "The way she went, it's hard for them."
Many of these victims' families are forced to rely on the federal government for answers.
Sonia Bernadette Lente disappeared while walking in 2002 in Albuquerque. Her sister Sandi Fletcher said part of Sonia's body was found on tribal land a year later, but her remains went unidentified for six years.
"When they found out the remains were found on the Isleta Reservation, it became federal agencies that I guess had to handle it," Fletcher said.
Sonia's case has gone cold.
While some families have lost hope for justice, they do hope to keep other women from the same fate, by telling their stories. Tribes are also banding together to prevent the abuse that plagues their community.
"There are 26 tribal domestic violence and sexual assault programs throughout Oklahoma," said Raven Word from the Native Alliance Against Violence, "and they each have been doing their own part in trying to effect systemic change."
You can learn more about the local resources available for women through the Native Alliance Against Violence. To connect, click here.
Editor’s Note: News 9 is part of a local initiative that brings all of our local media outlets together to give Oklahoma a United Voice in promoting a healthy dialogue on race. To see more stories, visit UnitedVoiceOK.org.
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