State Lawmaker Speaks Out About Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women As Gabby Petito Case Makes Headlines

Wednesday, September 22nd 2021, 4:56 pm
By: Erika Lee


As the Gabby Petito case continues to gain national attention and an overwhelming amount of media coverage, many have been vocal that indigenous murders and missing persons cases do not get nearly as much attention, if at all.

In Wyoming, the state where Petito went missing, there have been 710 indigenous people reported missing from 2011 to 2020. 

Similarly, in Oklahoma, many missing cases and murders don’t receive high profile attention — especially in Native American communities. Many don’t get any attention at all.

State Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, took to social media this week to post his thoughts on the disproportionate attention different communities receive.

He mentioned the passage of Ida's Law in April, a bill aimed at bringing justice to indigenous victims.

“Unfortunately, each month there’s a new poster of someone [indigenous] gone missing,” said Dollens. "It seems like in that community it is often written off because of their lifestyle, or that they’re runaways, but I know for a fact that isn’t always the case.

Ida's Law would allocate resources and collect better data for Indigenous families when their loved ones are missing.

The law was named after Ida Beard, who disappeared five years ago and still has not been found.

It will officially go into effect on Nov. 2.

Beard's cousin said Petito's case is making an impact, allowing people to have conversations about how all cases deserve the same amount of attention regardless of race, ethnicity or gender.

“I feel like had it not been for Ida’s Law or the media attention it created, her case and many others like it would just be sitting. This has brought attention to not just native cases but all cases in general," said Larenda Morgan, Beard's cousin.

Beard’s family said they hope Ida’s Law will make a difference, and the Oklahoma community should continue sharing missing persons on social media, because it makes a big difference.