Tuesday, May 5th is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Awareness Day. Though awareness for MMIW has increased in recent years, it still very much remains a crisis.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, the murder rate of Native females is more than ten times the national average on some reservations. Often, these disappearances or murders are connected to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and sex trafficking.
The Urban Indian Health Institute, division of the Seattle Indian Health Board, rates Washington State second-highest in the Nation for missing Indigenous women cases in urban centers. Seattle rated first among cities nation-wide in MMIW cases. Tacoma rated 7th.
Missing from Auburn
Kaylee Mae Nelson-Jerry has been missing from Auburn since July 2019. Kaylee is a Native American female, 21 years old, approximately 5’ 7” tall, and weighing around 135 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
A March update posted on the Auburn Police Dep Facebook page shared that Detectives are still actively investigating Kaylee’s disappearance, and are searching for her. “Kaylee’s family and the investigating detectives are desperate to find her. The good news is that detectives feel that Kaylee is alive.”
Tips from the public have placed Kaylee from Seattle to south Tacoma. Auburn police are requesting if anyone believes they see Kaylee to call 911 immediately. “Whether you are in Auburn, Seattle, Tacoma, or wherever, please, call 911 so that an officer can be dispatched immediately to contact Kaylee. If it’s not Kaylee, please don’t think you’ll be in trouble! It’s better to have tried.”
If you have any information about Kaylee, old or new, no matter how insignificant you think it might be, call the Auburn PD tip line at 253 288-7403.
Running to Raise Awareness
Rosalie Fish made national headlines in June 2019 when she raced with a red handprint over her mouth to honor the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Each race she competed in was dedicated to A missing or murdered Indigenous woman from Washington: Alice Ida Looney, Renee Davis, Jacqueline (Jackie) Salyers, and Misty Upham.
Fish gave a TEDtalk with TEDXYOUTH Seattle. Her talk covers topics like Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Youth Empowerment, Indigenous Visibility, and Suicide Prevention.
Fish was a senior at the Muckleshoot Tribal School when she won the three state championships titles. She now attends Iowa Central. Fish continues to run, raising awareness for MMIW.
Washington State Patrol Builds Partnerships with Tribal Communities
[The following is a release from Washington State Patrol. Its contents have not been independently verified by the Auburn Examiner. ]
The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is building partnerships with tribal communities to help find our missing Native community members. In fact, just in the past week, those partnerships along with WSP’s networking with other law enforcement agencies across the nation led to a success. A missing Native woman, feared dead since 2006, was found alive in another part of the country and is being reunited with her loving family. As this is very recent, we are respecting the family’s privacy and not providing further detail but WSP wishes to thank the many dedicated partners who contributed to this successful effort.
Nationally, Native Americans experience violence by non-native persons at a high incident rate[i]. Our Native neighbors also are reported as missing at a rate higher than their demographic representation. Native Americans represent 1.9 percent of Washington State’s population according to the 2019 population estimates by the U.S. Census and account for 6 percent of Washington’s active missing persons reports.
On average, 102 Native women, girls, men, and boys are listed as missing in Washington State each week[ii] in the State’s WACIC database. The majority of missing Native people are reported in cities and counties, not tribal jurisdictions. The actual number of missing Native Americans is likely much higher, as Native persons are often inaccurately reported or listed as white in law enforcement databases.
A number of government agencies, public entities, and private grassroots communities are working to correct reporting errors, identify missing and murdered Native people, and support families as they navigate unfamiliar judicial systems. Through MMIW Awareness, loopholes and problems are being identified and corrected which contributes to the welfare of all Washington State citizens. The WSP is proud to be a partner in the continued improvement of systems that help find the missing as well as serve the needs of communities historically underrepresented and overlooked. Together, we seek truth, we seek justice, and we seek a safer future for all people.