From the Hearts of Native American and Black Women: What About Us?


Photo Credit: NPR

Simone Chery, Media Editor

Kidnappings and disappearances make their way to the news quite more often than not. However, two specific communities — Native American and Black women — are being targeted and are going missing at higher rates, but the fact that those disappearances are barely making their way up the latter of news stories is peculiar, to say the least. 

The alarming rate of women who have gone missing is not as prevalent in the news as it should be. There are hundreds of missing Black and Native American women across the United States, yet it isn’t highlighted on the news as much as cases like Gabby Petito’s or other cases that are more severe and bizarre, which catches the eye more. 

This affects people from Black and Native American communities as it is said these murders are deeply rooted in racism and misogyny. Families are in need of closure and assistance to bring awareness to the world that these women are missing and not many people know.

Honing in on one specific state, in a Reuters article about the missing Native women who are being ignored, Wyoming has 400 missing Native American young girls and women, along with homicide being the third leading cause of death among indigenous women. This is the same state Gabby Petito’s body was found in and the media coverage for her story flooded major news outlets, which many people call “missing white woman syndrome.” This term is used by media commentators and social scientists when referring to missing young white women like Petito which turns into entertainment for the whole nation following the case.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Native American cases and investigations aren’t tackled much and are left as unresolved cases which, in the end, reveal a problem within the system that holds racial disparities. These statistics and unnerving rates at which these women are going missing come from on missing Native women being ignored and comparisons to other groups.

“In Wyoming, the state where Petito’s body was found, only 18% of indigenous female homicide victims get newspaper coverage, compared with 51% for white female and male victims, according to a state report,” according to Reuters.

Alongside this, thousands of young Black women and girls come up missing nationally every year. In general, women, especially Black women, have gone missing at excessive rates as tens of thousands of black young girls and women go missing every year, according to NPR.

In NPR’s article on vanishing black women, not only does the writer share the stories of victims and families of the victims to spread awareness, she provides statistics to help comprehend the situation at hand.

“In 2020, of the 268,884 girls and women who were reported missing, 90,333, or nearly 34% of them, were Black, according to the National Crime Information Center,” the NPR article said.

Many people from these communities believe there should be an equitable effort in funding, help, and attention to cases for people of color in general.

More urgency should be present in these cases because it can result in something even worse, as oppressive systems such as human trafficking occur behind the scenes involving tribes. More information is explained in-depth in an NBC News story pertaining to the lack of scrutiny on these cases and what difficulties come along with these particular ones.

“A 2016 study by the National Institute of Justice estimates that 1.5 million American Indian and Alaskan Native women have experienced violence, including sexual abuse, and the Justice Department found that women on some reservations have been killed at a rate more than 10 times the national average,” according to NBC News.

Wanting all the help they can get, issues arise, especially with local and state jurisdictions. Compromising can be  difficult when staff officials of the law lack knowledge on

Native American culture when working with Indigenous people. Not only this, but rural communities “struggling to respond to adequate resources,” as said in the NBC News article, make it difficult for things to get done when no one wants to meet in the middle. 

Not only this but, geographic obstacles are inevitable in these situations and get in the way, making solving the case more difficult.

More awareness and news coverage needs to spotlight these disturbing disappearances of Native American and Black women. As a woman — a Black woman at that — it is important to me that I help spread awareness for Native American and Black women. Think about them, think about us.