Mother Jones

THIS NATIVE AMERICAN LIFE

Our story is tragic, but not in the way you think.

BACK IN JUNE, activist Shaun King tweeted out a colleague’s Intercept story to his million-plus followers: “All over this country, for decades on end now, indigenous women have gone missing at an alarming rate,” he wrote. “Authorities are just now truly acknowledging the crisis.” I remembered then to ask around the rez whether Roberta was still missing.

Roberta, whose name I have changed to protect her privacy, is from my reserve on British Columbia’s Seabird Island. It’s a small community, and it only took a few Facebook messages to learn she’d been spotted at a 7-Eleven. I’d seen her myself a few months earlier, and she wasn’t looking well. When I was young I used to babysit for a friend of hers, and I still remember how hard they partied. Someone close to Roberta told me she had been trying to stay in recovery—she was “lost but not lost.” Just putting this to paper perpetuates a negative stereotype: We’re doing this to ourselves.

In March, Roberta had posted on Facebook, “Do you believe in me? acknokwledge me please.” She was reported missing April 13, and for weeks I would stare at her profile

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