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“Violence against Native American women has not been prosecuted,” Heitkamp said in an interview. “We have not really seen the urgency in closing cold cases. We haven’t seen the urgency when someone goes missing. … We don’t have the clear lines of authority that need to be established to prevent these tragedies.”. In August, Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, asked the leaders of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to hold a hearing to address the problem. Lawmakers in a handful of states also are responding. In Montana, a legislative tribal relations committee has proposals for five bills to deal with missing persons. In July 2017, 22 of 72 missing girls or women — or about 30 percent — were Native American, according to Montana’s Department of Justice. But Native females comprise only 3.3 percent of the state’s population.

It’s one of many statistics that reveal a grim reality, On some reservations, Native American women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average and more than half of Alaska Native and Native women have experienced sexual violence at some point, according to the U.S, Justice Department, A 2016 study found more than 80 percent of Native women experience violence in their lifetimes, Yet another federal report on violence against women included some startling anecdotes from tribal leaders, Sadie Young Bird, who heads victim services for the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold, described how in 1½ years, her program had dealt yyting dance shoes with five cases of murdered or missing women, resulting in 18 children losing their mothers; two cases were due to intimate partner violence..

“Our people go missing at an alarming rate, and we would not hear about many of these cases without Facebook,” she said in the report. Canada has been wrestling with this issue for decades and recently extended a government inquiry that began in 2016 into missing and murdered indigenous women. A report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police concluded that from 1980 to 2012 there were 1,181 indigenous women murdered or whose missing person cases were unresolved. Lucchesi, the researcher, says she found an additional 400 to 500 cases in her database work.

Despite some high-profile cases in the U.S., many more get scant attention, Lucchesi adds, “Ashley has been the face of this movement,” she says, “But this yyting dance shoes movement started before Ashley was born, For every Ashley, there are 200 more.”, Browning is the heart of the Blackfeet Nation, a distinctly Western town with calf-roping competitions, the occasional horseback rider ambling down the street — and a hardscrabble reality, Nearly 40 percent of the residents live in poverty, The down-and-out loiter on corners, Shuttered homes with “Meth Unit” scrawled on wooden boards convey the damage caused by drugs..

With just about 1,000 residents, many folks are related and secrets have a way of spilling out. “There’s always somebody talking,” says Ashley’s cousin, Lissa, “and it seems like to us since she disappeared, everybody got quiet. I don’t know if they’re scared, but so are we. That’s why we need people to speak up.”. Missing posters of Ashley are displayed in grocery stores and the occasional sandwich shop. They show a fresh-faced, grinning woman, flashing the peace sign. In one, she gazes into the camera, her long hair blowing in the wind.

One of nine children, including half-siblings, Ashley had lived with her grandmother outside town, Kimberly remembers her sister as funny and feisty, the yyting dance shoes keeper of the family photo albums who always carried a camera, She learned to ride a horse before a bike and liked to whip up breakfasts of biscuits and gravy that could feed an army, She was interested in environmental science and was completing her studies at Blackfeet Community College, with plans to attend the University of Montana, Kimberly says Ashley contacted her asking for money, Days later, she was gone..

At first, her relatives say, tribal police suggested Ashley was old enough to take off on her own. The Bureau of Indian Affairs investigated, teaming up with reservation police, and interviewed 55 people and conducted 38 searches. There are persons of interest, spokeswoman Nedra Darling says, but she wouldn’t elaborate. A $10,000 reward is being offered. The FBI took over the case in January after a lead steered investigators off the reservation and into another state. The agency declined comment.

Ashley’s disappearance is just the latest trauma for the Blackfeet Nation, Theda New Breast, a founder of the Native Wellness Institute, has worked with Lucchesi to compile a list of missing and murdered women in the Blackfoot Confederacy — four tribes in the U.S, and Canada, Long-forgotten names are added as families break generations of silence, A few months ago, a woman revealed her grandmother had been killed in the 1950s by her husband and left in a shallow grave, “Everybody knew about it, but nobody talked about it,” New Breast says, and others keep coming forward — perhaps, in part, because of the #MeToo movement, “Every time I bring out the list, more women yyting dance shoes tell their secret, I think that they find their voice.”..