Across America, the people who first walked this land are still experiencing the violent remnants of colonialism. Unsolved murder cases and disappearances plague the Native community to this day.
There are dozens of Native Americans who have been reported murdered or missing in Oklahoma. Like most of us, one mother did not know about the problem until it hit home.
“I woke up knowing that something was wrong,” Kim Merryman recalled.
On Aug. 27, 2016, Merryman learned her daughter Emily Morgan and Emily's friend Totinika “Ty” Elix had both been shot in the head in a car near McAlester.
23-year-old Emily, a member of the Choctaw tribe, was raising a 6-year-old son and had dreams of being on TV.
“I always thought she was going to, and she is, but not for the right reason,” Merryman said
Two years and hundreds of tips to the OSBI later, the double murder case is still unsolved.
“I’ve had my hopes up a million times for them to just be shattered,” Merryman said.
The Department of Justice reports indigenous women face murder rates ten times higher than the national average, but there is not an exact number of cases because some are not listed as Native American, and missing persons are not always reported.
Merryman knows two neighbors whose children were murdered, just in the two years since Emily died. She is now part of a Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women support group of families who understand her pain.
“In other people’s cases that I know, whenever somebody comes up missing and they go and report it, then they get things like, oh she probably just got drunk and she’ll be home in a few days,” Merryman said.
Merryman does not believe she will see a change until agencies take those reports seriously.
The Native Alliance Against Violence says many of the murdered and missing cases are tied to the disproportionate rates of domestic and sexual violence against indigenous women. The organization is rallying all tribes to raise awareness and resources to seek answers.
To learn more about the other cases of murdered and missing Native Americans in Oklahoma, click here.
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