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Finding justice for Native American women and children

Posted at 5:36 AM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 20:50:26-04

Native Americans across the nation are being killed and kidnapped. No one really knows how many Native American women have disappeared.

So many of these missing person cases have not been documented, let alone solved.

"My mom was about 33 years old when she came up missing," said Debbie Nez-Manuel. Frances Tsinajjnie was murdered and her killer was never found. "She was sexually assaulted and left for dead. Nobody brought her home," said Nez-Manuel.

Many Native Americans are hesitant to talk about something so personal. "Culturally there comes a time when you have to no longer call that person's name because they're at rest," Nez-Manuel said.

Almost 7,000 Native American women and children are missing in Arizona. But officials question how accurate that number is.

There are so many cases that are unreported, and in turn, not prosecuted.

Some say the problem is a battle over jurisdictions. With tribes being sovereign nations, who is in charge of investigating the crime? Tribal police or the FBI?

Officials from the U.S Department of Interior and Indian Affairs have joined forces with Tribal Leaders to launch nationwide "Listening Sessions" to address the problem.

Nez-Manuel says she sees the culture of silence shifting. She believes families will have hope and know their loved one's matter.