It has been precisely three years since Jermain Charlo, a then 23-year-old Indigenous woman living in Montana, went lacking. Whereas Charlo’s case stays unsolved, her story has make clear the disturbing variety of lacking Indigenous ladies within the US, and why the battle for justice for Indigenous women and girls, in every single place, is so obligatory.
The truth that we’re speaking about this disaster is due in no small half to investigative journalist Connie Walker, who, within the spring, launched an eight-episode podcast on Charlo’s case. Stolen: The Search For Jermain, produced by Gimlet Media, follows up on leads within the investigation whereas concurrently combating for justice for all Indigenous ladies. “Indigenous women and girls need to have their tales instructed. Each single story is so essential for the households who’re dwelling on this horrible limbo,” Walker instructed CelebrityPie. “I’m an Indigenous lady, and I really feel a accountability to share these tales. I need individuals to know our tales.”
With the podcast, Walker discovered an outlet to push previous the headlines and share the wealthy tradition and historical past of Indigenous communities. Inevitably, this implies unpacking the trauma Indigenous individuals have suffered on account of genocide, imperial conflict, and disenfranchisement. But Walker additionally captures the duality of Indigenous life — the struggling and the enjoyment, the inequity and the persistence that drives this group ahead. “The podcast allowed the chance to counter numerous misconceptions and stereotypes in regards to the Indigenous group, in addition to served as an area to create empathy for Jermain and different lacking Indigenous ladies,” Walker mentioned.
These instances usually obtain little media consideration, and that is only one purpose so a lot of them go unsolved. “Violence in opposition to Indigenous ladies is nothing new, and this violence is perpetuated by institutionalized racism,” Walker mentioned. One in three Indigenous women experience sexual assault of their lifetime, and homicide is the third leading cause of death in Indigenous girls and women ages 10 to 24. Limitations created by system racism, together with the bias usually mirrored within the police response to those tragedies, have contributed to the a long time of gendered violence in opposition to Indigenous ladies.
Walker’s protection of Charlo’s story has elevated the disaster of lacking and murdered Indigenous ladies to many who could have in any other case by no means heard about these injustices. “Indigenous ladies are survivors of violence, and I need to empower extra Indigenous ladies to come back ahead to inform their tales,” Walker mentioned. “There’s range in our tales stuffed with ache, pleasure, love, and resilience, and there may be area for all of them to be instructed.”
“Each Indigenous lady deserves to have justice and an area to be honored,” Walker mentioned.
There are some indicators of progress on this concern. Most lately, the Biden administration introduced the creation of the Lacking and Murdered Unit (MMU) to deal with the staggering variety of lacking Indigenous women and girls throughout US cities. Deb Haaland, the primary Indigenous individual to turn out to be a cupboard secretary, is spearheading the unit throughout the Division of the Inside. “Violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades,” Haaland mentioned in an announcement. “The brand new MMU unit will present the sources and management to prioritize these instances and coordinate sources to carry individuals accountable, maintain our communities protected, and supply closure for households.”
Walker hopes that her work, in addition to the groundswell of help for racial justice, will result in extra advocacy for Indigenous ladies, whose tales have been within the shadows for a lot too lengthy. “I acknowledge there was some motion, however there may be a lot work to do,” Walker mentioned.
Charlo is only one of many Indigenous ladies who stay lacking, abandoning a household and group nonetheless reeling from her absence. “Each Indigenous lady deserves to have justice and an area to be honored,” Walker mentioned. It is turn out to be a private mission for Walker, one which reminds us all that although these ladies are lacking, they need to not be forgotten.
Picture Supply: Courtesy of Connie Walker