All-out search, media attention for Gabby Petito reveals glaring disparity for Wyoming's Indigenous people

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  1stwarrior  •  3 months ago  •  19 comments

All-out search, media attention for Gabby Petito reveals glaring disparity for Wyoming's Indigenous people
A report says 710 Indigenous people were reported missing in the state over the past decade.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The search for Gabby Petito by five different agencies last week in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park was almost as massive as the attention it received from a nation gripped by the disappearance of the 22-year-old white woman.

Petito's saga   ended in tragedy   Sunday when authorities found her remains and later declared her death a homicide. Two hours east, in the town of Riverton, Wyoming, Tianna Wagon, 24, followed the case closely, knowing what the Petito family was going through. In January 2019, one of her sisters, Jocelyn Watt, 30, was murdered at home in Riverton along with her companion210924-jade-wagon-inline-se-1029a.jpg

A year later, another sister, Jade Wagon, 23, was reported missing and later found dead in the Wind River Reservation. Jocelyn Watts' killing remains unsolved, and Jade Wagon’s death was ruled accidental, but the family has lingering questions about what happened.


The Petito case has highlighted the disparity in police resources and media attention often focused on missing white women compared to   missing people of color   and generated calls for law enforcement to treat all cases similarly.

“The cases weren’t highlighted as much as Gabby’s,” Tianna Wagon said about her sisters' disappearances.

Jade Wagon was among the 710 Indigenous people reported missing in Wyoming in the past decade, according to a report this year by the University of Wyoming. It found that 85 percent of the missing were minors, 57 percent are   women and girls,   and   Indigenous people   were about 100 percent more likely to still be missing after 30 days than white people.

Their cases received much less attention than those of white Wyoming residents, the study found.

“How could their story be highlighted when people could care less about minority people in rural Wyoming?” Tianna Wagon said.

The journalist Gwen Ifill called this phenomenon “missing white woman syndrome,” in which missing and murdered white women are portrayed as innocent and perfect victims, and draw days of media attention while the cases of missing and murdered women of color are often ignored.

Studies show that “missing white woman syndrome” has led to more tough-on-crime policies — often named after a victim — that disproportionately affect communities of color. It also has emotional reverberations for victims' families, whose grief and emotional pain are worsened by what feels like indifference at best and callousness at worst.

The Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center’s report on missing and murdered Indigenous people outlines how the media perpetuates the situation.

“Indigenous people — especially Indigenous women — are often negatively portrayed as sex workers, drug addicts, and criminals, while their non-Indigenous counterparts are depicted as respected family and community members,” the report said.

Researchers found key themes in the differing portrayals. Stories about Indigenous victims often had negative character framing, graphic language describing the death and relied on stereotypes. White victims were more likely to have positive character framing and articles focused on the victim’s life.

“In our analysis of media coverage for missing people in Wyoming, we found that white people were more likely to have an article out while they were still missing as compared to indigenous people who were more likely to have the first media article on their case only after they were found deceased,” Emily Grant, a senior research scientist at the center, said in an email.

Tianna Wagon said these realities hurt.

“I was brought up to believe no life is greater or less than anybody,” she said.

Tianna Wagon said she wishes the compassion extended to victims like Petito was extended to people like her sisters. Instead, she said, people often voice their opinions with no understanding of what her family and community are experiencing. People have told her to give up, grieve and move on, and that she is playing the “race card” when she mentions disparities in treatment.

“I loved my sister, my mom did, these kids love their mom,” she said of her sister, Jade, who had two children. “My sisters' lives count and matter then when they were alive and even more so now when they are gone and their cases are unsolved.”

Cara Chambers, director of victims services at the Wyoming attorney general’s office, commissioned the report and said the Petito case “absolutely” validates the findings.

The speed with which authorities were able to find Petito’s remains was astonishing for the region, in part because so many eyes were on the case, she said. Some Indigenous families in the state are going on 20 or 30 years with no leads or answers from authorities on their missing family members.

Still, she emphasized this is not a zero-sum game and expressed her deep condolences for the Petito family.

“The media will move on from the Petito case, but the work here in Wyoming, boots on the ground, continues because it has to,” Chambers said. Her office and the report are not saying that cases like Petito’s deserve less attention, but rather that those of Indigenous people deserve more, she said.

“This isn’t a pie,” she said.

Tianna Wagon said she wonders if authorities “had tried a little harder or cared a little harder, would my sister have been found alive?”

Jade Wagon loved to draw and write and enjoyed the outdoors. She had been a stay-at-home mom, raising her two children, MaeLeah and Raphael.

“She loved laughing around and terrorizing her younger sisters. Jade was known to have a one-of-a-kind sense of humor. You can find her cute silly laugh in the largest crow,” her obituary read.210924-jocelyn-watt-inline-se-1029a.jpg

After Jocelyn Watt's death, Jade Wagon had become an active voice in the movement to bring more attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Jocelyn Watt lived just a few blocks from Tianna Wagon and was well-known in Riverton. She worked at the Wind River Casino and had a beautiful singing voice, according to her sister. She was a massive New England Patriots fan and always wanted to pursue a career in optometry.

Their mother, Nicole Wagon, 51, said she will not give up trying to find justice for her daughters.

"I advocate for justice, not just for my own daughters but for the many families, because they have lives, they have stories. They aren’t numbers," she said.

Petito's death was a tragedy, she said, but she is grateful to the family for "shedding light on the state of Wyoming."

“I truly believe that if the 710 cases got nearly half the media coverage that Petito did, maybe things would’ve been solved."





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1stwarrior
Professor Guide
1  seeder  1stwarrior    3 months ago

The Petito case has highlighted the disparity in police resources and media attention often focused on missing white women compared to missing people of color and generated calls for law enforcement to treat all cases similarly.

“The cases weren’t highlighted as much as Gabby’s,” Tianna Wagon said about her sisters' disappearances.

Jade Wagon was among the 710 Indigenous people reported missing in Wyoming in the past decade, according to a report this year by the University of Wyoming. It found that 85 percent of the missing were minors, 57 percent are  women and girls,  and Indigenous people were about 100 percent more likely to still be missing after 30 days than white people.

Their cases received much less attention than those of white Wyoming residents, the study found.

The journalist Gwen Ifill called this phenomenon “missing white woman syndrome,” in which missing and murdered white women are portrayed as innocent and perfect victims, and draw days of media attention while the cases of missing and murdered women of color are often ignored.

“Indigenous people — especially Indigenous women — are often negatively portrayed as sex workers, drug addicts, and criminals, while their non-Indigenous counterparts are depicted as respected family and community members,” the report said.

Researchers found key themes in the differing portrayals. Stories about Indigenous victims often had negative character framing, graphic language describing the death and relied on stereotypes. White victims were more likely to have positive character framing and articles focused on the victim’s life.

White Privilege???

If you haven't, watch "Wind River" on Netflix - you'll see more truths in it.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    3 months ago

www.centredaily.com   /news/politics-government/national-politics/article254477447.html

Haaland: Petito case a reminder of missing Native Americans

MATTHEW DALY 6-7 minutes   Invalid Date


WASHINGTON
800

Speaking in personal terms, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said extensive news media coverage of the disappearance and death of 22-year-old Gabby Petito while on a cross-country trip should be a reminder of hundreds of Native American girls and women who are missing or murdered in the United States.

Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet secretary, said that her heart goes out to Petito's family, but that she also grieves for “so many Indigenous women'' whose families have endured similar heartache “for the last 500 years.''

The search for Petito generated a whirlwind of news coverage, especially on cable television, as well as a frenzy of online sleuthing, with tips, possible sightings and theories shared by the hundreds of thousands on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. The Florida woman, who disappeared while on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, was found dead at the edge of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Authorities have determined she was a homicide victim.

A report prepared for the state of Wyoming found that at least 710 Native Americans were reported missing between 2011 and late 2020. Between 2010 and 2019, the homicide rate per 100,000 for Indigenous people was 26.8, eight times higher than the homicide rate for white people, the report said.

Haaland, a member of the Pueblo Laguna tribe, said she has frequently seen Native American family members posting pictures on fences and the sides of buildings to help locate missing girls or women. When that happens, “you know I see my sisters,'' she told reporters Thursday at a news conference. “I see my mother. I see my aunties or my nieces or even my own child. So I feel that every woman and every person who is in this victimized place deserves attention and deserves to be cared about.''

A former New Mexico congresswoman, Haaland pushed for a law signed last year to address the crisis of missing, murdered and trafficked Indigenous women. The law, known as Savanna’s Act, is intended to help law enforcement track, solve and prevent crimes against Native Americans, especially women and girls.

The law is named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a member of the Spirit Lake tribe who was abducted and killed in 2017 near Fargo, North Dakota. Greywind, 22, was pregnant, and her unborn baby was cut from her body. Her remains were found in the Red River.

Haaland said she sees her mission as interior secretary in part as a way to elevate attention on Native American issues.

“I feel like it’s my job to lift up this issue as best I can. And hopefully, the folks who are writing the news, and broadcasting the news will understand that these women are also friends, neighbors, classmates and work colleagues,'' she said.

Haaland stressed that her comments were not intended to downplay the pain suffered by Petito's family.

“Anytime a woman faces assault, rape, murder, kidnapping — any of those things — it’s very difficult and my heart goes out to any family who has to endure that type of pain,'' she said. “And so, of course, my heart goes out to the young woman who was found in Wyoming.''

Everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities, Haaland said, but "where I can make a difference in particular is in addressing the missing and murdered Indigenous peoples crisis, which has occurred since the beginning of colonization of Indigenous people on this continent for about the last 500 years and it continues.''

Haaland created a Missing & Murdered Unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services earlier this year and has established a joint commission of national tribal leaders and experts, led by the Interior and Justice departments, to reduce violent crime against American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Haaland also ordered Interior to investigate its past oversight of Native American boarding schools that forced hundreds of thousands of children from their families and communities.

“The primary goal of this work is to share the truth of this dark chapter in our nation’s history, so that we can begin to heal,'' Haaland said.

A written report is expected next year.

Missing_Traveler_Interior_Secretary_53306.jpg

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
3  seeder  1stwarrior    3 months ago

Haaland said she sees her mission as interior secretary in part as a way to elevate attention on Native American issues.

“I feel like it’s my job to lift up this issue as best I can. And hopefully, the folks who are writing the news, and broadcasting the news will understand that these women are also friends, neighbors, classmates and work colleagues,'' she said.

Haaland stressed that her comments were not intended to downplay the pain suffered by Petito's family.

“Anytime a woman faces assault, rape, murder, kidnapping — any of those things — it’s very difficult and my heart goes out to any family who has to endure that type of pain,'' she said. “And so, of course, my heart goes out to the young woman who was found in Wyoming.''

Everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities, Haaland said, but "where I can make a difference in particular is in addressing the missing and murdered Indigenous peoples crisis, which has occurred since the beginning of colonization of Indigenous people on this continent for about the last 500 years and it continues.''

Major Crimes Act -

This list of crimes has since been updated to the following (as of Pub. L. 114-38):

  1. Murder
  2. Manslaughter
  3. Kidnapping
  4. Maiming
  5. A felony under chapter 109A (i.e. sexual abuse)
  6. Incest
  7. A felony assault under section 113 (e.g. assault with intent to commit murder or assault with a dangerous weapon)
  8. An assault against an individual who has not attained the age of 16 years
  9. Felony child abuse or neglect,
  10. Arson
  11. Burglary
  12. Robbery, and
  13. A felony under section 661 of this title (i. e. larceny)

And, who is responsible for the jurisdiction of the Major Crimes Act??  THE FBI

Yes John - you are quite right and Deb's is completely behind developing a program that will coincide with the three new laws passed - Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, Violence Against Women Act as Reauthorized and Savanna Act.  Unfortunately, the FBI is entirely too busy brushing all the negative about this administration and previous administrations under the rug and don't have any time to actually do any "Work" as defined under their charter with Native Americans.

Did you know that in SD, the FBI, under the excuse of not being properly manned, denies/refuses to follow their jurisdiction in 90% of the Native American cases brought before them that they are required, under the Major Crimes Act, to investigate/solve??

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
4  Mark in Wyoming     3 months ago

My view because im here first? yes this is actually my back yard so to speak .

 Since i have moved here 9 years ago now , i have seen a pattern between those on rez and off rez and a lot of the little things have to do with if it is on or off rez , as well as who all is involved that could shed light on any investigation .

 If it happens on rez , there is a large amount of distrust for those investigating , when i moved here i was told point blank ," mind your own business , and you never see anything " and was told that by a "younger " individual . thats part of it no matter who is looking into something , see nothing and say nothing . do so at your own peril . And yes i have seen some get away with things because of familial connections .

If it happens off rez , it gets worse , not only do people turn mute , they start throwing race cards all over the place before anyone can look into the facts of what happened . and it does come from both sides .

and what are the authorities to do if information ,leads stop coming in ?

 jocelyns case happened  off rez , in the middle of town , at night in her own home  , yet no one saw or heard anything and there was scant evidence on the scene , and not a soul that MIGHT know something is saying anything . I know what the scuttlebutt is , the rumor , but nothing has been proven or can be proven  in that respect . absent new evidence, or someone coming forward or confessing  it remains a open unsolved case . sadly.

 jades happened on rez , and with the evidence found , was deemed accidental by both the FBI and the local coroner .

 You pointed out the movie , Wind river , to give folks a glipse of how it is , i will add a better one that gives a glimpse of how things go down , the Val Kilmner movie , Thunderheart. that one is a little closer to what goes on and is faced here .

 This is just what the eyes on the ground have seen , and not meant to cause a fight .

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
4.1  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @4    3 months ago

And, it really is sad that there is so much mistrust that goes on.  Sadly though, that mistrust has been built up year after year by the shafts the people have/are getting from the so-called "officials".

Those "officials" need to be held accountable and may that distrust/mistrust will start going away - don't know.

Thanks Mark.

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
4.1.1  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  1stwarrior @4.1    3 months ago

Oh i can understand it , its not just the "officials " that are to blame though , because the mistrust is a learned and taught behaviour , even in the very young i have seen that have had zero contact with these "officials ". and its NOT cultural from my understanding of tribes histories .

 It actually is the story of the 2 wolves fighting inside an individual and the one that wins is the one the individual feeds , i have been watching that for a while now in real time .

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
4.1.2  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @4.1.1    3 months ago

Great analogy - very true.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1.3  Kavika   replied to  Mark in Wyoming @4.1.1    3 months ago

There is no reason for Indians to trust the FBI or any law enforcement agency when it comes to dealing and supporting Indians. They have proven time and time again that they could care less when it comes to protecting our rights. 

The Oliphant decision of 1978 was the start of the diaster we see today.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
4.1.4  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Kavika @4.1.3    3 months ago

And Congress has fought against passing the "Lara" fix since the '80's

In the 1880s,  Congress  passed the  Major Crimes Act , divesting tribes of criminal jurisdiction in regard to several  felony  crimes. In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in  Duro v. Reina  that an Indian tribe did not have the authority to try an Indian criminally who was not a member of that tribe. The following year, Congress passed a law that stated that Indian tribes, because of their inherent  sovereignty , had the authority to try non-member Indians for crimes committed within the tribe's territorial jurisdiction.

The defendant, Billy Jo Lara, was charged for acts that were criminal offenses under both the  Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe 's laws and the federal  United States Code . Lara pleaded guilty to the tribal charges, but claimed  double jeopardy  against the federal charges. The Supreme Court ruled that double jeopardy did not apply to Lara since "the successive prosecutions were brought by separate and distinct sovereign bodies ".

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
4.1.5  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Kavika @4.1.3    3 months ago

And thats likely the reason IF i get pulled over by tribal police or BIA and they wish me cited , they have a county mountie or a state trooper come and do so . thankfully im not usually in that position .

 i tend to remember that that situation cuts both ways from my observations as well because of jurisdiction and whatever is in the treaties . people committing crimes off rez and going on rez to avoid apprehension for a time .

Big thing i have seen here has to do with stolen property , something stolen off rez and makes it to the rez , the investigation stops at the boundry until all the set steps are taken to involve all those that are needed to be involved .

getting back to the discussion ,  The petito situation is very different , information and tips kept coming in ,  without those tips and info , things would have been the same for any other missing person .

 Which unfortunately happens a great deal in any missing persons case , as i said , without tips or info , investigations tend to not go far . And it does not help that people may not say anything even if it might end up a wild goose chase . absent someone having a tip or confessing , there is not much to do except go back and cover the same ground , which usually ends up getting the same answers from those involved or questioned the first or second time around .

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1.6  Kavika   replied to  Mark in Wyoming @4.1.5    3 months ago

The reason you're not ticketed by the Native police is because of the Oliphant decision. 

Non natives commit crimes on the reservation especially sexual assault on native women and there is nothing that the tribal police can do about it. That again is the result of the Oliphant decision. 

Many times with tips the LEO's do next to nothing or are so slow in responding or checking out the tips is that families are left hanging for months. 

As I said before there is no reason for Indians to trust LEO's. History is your guide.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
Professor Principal
4.1.7  Raven Wing  replied to  Kavika @4.1.6    2 months ago
As I said before there is no reason for Indians to trust LEO's. History is your guide.

Hear! Hear! jrSmiley_81_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
Professor Guide
5  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom    3 months ago

With Deb Haaland leading the charge, I truly believe that changes will happen.  

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
5.1  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @5    3 months ago

Sister - I and thousands of Native Americans agree with you - hope it really does change.

Thanks for your thoughts.

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Masters Guide
6  Drakkonis    3 months ago

I hope things change in this regard. However, I have to wonder why the MSM doesn't cover it more than it does? To me, that's a large part of the problem. Why have they decided not to devote more attention to this tragedy? You'd think this was a no-brainer compared to some of the ridiculous crap they cover. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
7  Kavika     3 months ago

It is not only MSN but most all mainline media. Some of the ones that feature it at Indian Country Today, Native News Online, The Guardian, Reuters, Vox, and a few others.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
9  Kavika     3 months ago

Hopefully, Deb Haaland will be able to bring this to the forefront, whether anything will be done about it on an actionable level remains to be seen. 

 
 
 
Raven Wing
Professor Principal
9.1  Raven Wing  replied to  Kavika @9    2 months ago
whether anything will be done about it on an actionable level remains to be seen. 

Very true. And as much as I am truly glad that Deb Haaland won the position she now has, and how much I sincerely hope she can make the much needed changes in the how the Dept she is in charge now of is run, I am also aware of the block wall(s she may face in many areas that need to be addressed. 

However, I feel that her dedication to not only her own Tribe, but, to all the Tribes big and small, she will leave no block wall unchallenged, and will succeed in the end. There are a lot more non-NAs who will have her back today than were willing in the past.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
10  Perrie Halpern R.A.    3 months ago

I'm hoping for a big change with Deb Haaland. Hopefully, she can get the agencies to work together. I think the first order of things needs to be outreach to the tribes. That would go a long way to getting cooperation and understanding between tribal and federal authorities. 

 
 
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