By now, you would have to be living in a remote corner of the solar system not to have heard of Gabrielle (“Gabby”) Petito. The 22-year-old American woman was on a summer road trip with her fiancé when she was reported missing. A body that matches her description has been found in the woods of Wyoming. Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is now on the run.
Given the amount of breathless, non-stop news coverage of the case, you’d think a young woman going missing and being found dead and possibly murdered was rare in North America. Sadly, it is not at all. Thousands of women of colour, especially Native American or Indigenous women, go missing in America and Canada every year, a phenomenon which receives little – if any – attention.
A 2018 report by the Urban Indian Health Institute logged more than 5,700 cases of missing Native American women and girls in 2016. Another painstakingly documented report last year detailed hundreds of missing and murdered Native Americans, with incidents often taking place on tribal lands at the hands of presumed non-Indigenous killers and abductors, with law enforcement often ignoring the cases or blaming the victims.
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