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Finding Ella Mae Begay: Native American elder missing for 46 days

Ella Mae Begay
Posted at 10:20 AM, Jul 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-31 13:20:58-04

It has been a month and a half since a Navajo Nation woman disappeared from her home in the Sweetwater community of Arizona.

Ella Mae Begay is an elder in the community. She is known for her weaving skills which have her distinct signature, according to family.

The search for Begay now spans across three states, thanks to tips that have come into the Navajo Nation Police Department.

Law enforcement agencies and the FBI in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah have been searching for any signs of the Native American woman, reported missing on June 15. While her family remains hopeful that she will be found safe, police are now calling it a homicide investigation.

For Seraphine Warren, Begay's niece, the last 46 days have been filled with tears and determination to find her 'auntie.'

"We haven't gotten any positive answers from law enforcement or FBI," said Warren. "We're trying to get answers by asking the same questions over and over," she added.

In tears, Warren described how heartbroken her family was, as they searched for her aunt. Warren said a relative had reported a man trying to break down her door on the day of Ella Mae Begay's disappearance. That man was unsuccessful and was last seen heading toward Begay's home.

Begay's disappearance is highlighting a much larger issue in the Navajo Nation. That has led Warren to start walking on trails and roads throughout the tribal land to raise awareness.

"I want to walk because I have to make a point. I am walking for the missing indigenous, the murdered. Every day that is all I see, people going missing," said Warren.

Over the last few weeks, other families with missing loved ones had joined her on her walk.

Over the last two years, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has taken on the big issue of missing and murdered Native American women, and promised to pursue justice for their families, while making these cases a priority.

In Arizona to date, there are 7,000 missing Native American women and children.

"What is it going to take to stop this?"

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has met with the family and even walked with them at least once. Those walking are holding up posters that read "Justice for Ella Mae Begay" and "No More Stolen Sisters".

In a video news release, Navajo Nation Police Captain Leonard Redhorse acknowledged the pain Begay's family was feeling. Redhorse said since day one, officers have been interviewing witnesses and canvassing the area for any signs of Begay. They have been following up on every lead coming into their office. Police are asking the community for understanding and patience.

"We will share information as it becomes available, as long as it protects the potential criminal conduct that's occurring out in the field," said police captain Redhorse.

The family has set up a fundraiser to help with expenses related to the search for Begay. If you would like to help, go to Fundraiser by Darrell Williams: Bring Ella Mae Begay Home (gofundme.com).

Her family has also put out pictures of the Begay's truck which has also been missing since her disappearance.

It is a 2005 Silver Ford F-150 with Arizona license plate AFE7101.

The family is offering a $3,000 reward to anyone who can help solve this case.

Anyone with information should call the Navajo Nation Police Department's Shiprock District at 505-368-1350 or 505-368-1351.