“Missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) have disappeared not once, but three times. In life, in the media, and in the data.” – Missing and Murdered Native American Women Report, Washington State Patrol 2018.
May 5 is National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day. While awareness for MMIW has increased in recent years, it remains an epidemic. Little girls grow up without mothers, and mothers grow old without their daughters– with no clear answers.
MMIW by the Numbers
Indigenous women are 10 times more likely to be killed than the average national murder rate.
Homicide is the third leading cause of death among 10-24 year old indigenous people.
There were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls in 2016 alone. The US Department of Justice’s federal missing person database, NamUs, only logged 116 cases.
Washington state is the second highest in the nation for Missing Native American cases. 98 cases have been filed with the National Crime Information Center: 53 males, 45 females, and 33 children.
Seattle rated first among cities nationwide in MMIW cases (45). Tacoma rated seventh (25).
Seattle is rated fourth among cities with the highest number of MMIW cases that are not in law enforcement records (11).
Native people only make up 2% of the overall US population.
MMIW From the Auburn Area
Jean Elkins was last seen on March 9, 2021, at 7:20 p.m. at the Muckleshoot Tribal School. She was wearing light blue jeans, a black jacket, and was carrying a brown bag at the time. Elkins is 16 years old.
Kaylee Mae Nelson-Jerry
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. Tips have poured in throughout the last few years, with possible sightings of Nelson-Jerry from Seattle to Tacoma. She remains missing today.
Kaylee’s family understands if she does not want to return to Muckleshoot. They want proof of life to know she is alive and safe.
Alyssa McLemore has been missing from Kent since April 2009. A frantic 911 call was made from McLemore’s phone before the line was cut off. She has not been seen or heard from since. WSP unveiled a Homeward Bound Truck in 2019 for McLemore.
Leona LeClaire Kinsey
Leona LeClaire Kinsey was a Puyallup Tribal Member who disappeared from La Grande, Oregon in October of 1999. Her daughter, Carolne DeFord, believes she was likely a victim of foul play at the hands of a man, reportedly a drug dealer, that she went to meet. His whereabouts have remained unknown.
Misty Upham was an up-and-coming actress and a Blackfeet Nation member who went missing on October 6, 2014 in Auburn. Ten days later, Upham’s friends and family organized a search party on Muckleshoot Reservation. That is when they found her purse, and 50 to 75 feet below an embankment along the White River, her body. Her death has remained unsolved, as the coroner could not determine whether the fall was an accident.
Renee Davis, a member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, was fatally shot by two King County Sheriff’s Deputies in October 2016. The Deputies were performing a welfare check on Davis. She was a mother of three and five months pregnant.
Puyallup Tribal member Jacqueline Salyers was killed by a Tacoma police officer in January 2016. She was shot four times when two police officers walked toward her vehicle with their firearms immediately drawn. She was pregnant.
Some Ideas on how to participate and raise awareness for MMIW:
1) Wear RED on May 5th and post a photo on social media with the hashtag #NationalDayofAwareness #MMNWG or #MMIW
2) Host a community event in your community on May 5th
3) Host a prayer circle or candlelight vigil on May 5th
4) Post a list of names of sisters missing or murdered from your community,
5) Create a living memorial
6) Register to participate in the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center webinar: Honoring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.