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Murdered And Missing Indigenous Women: Advocates Say NC Law Enforcement Ignores The Problem

Protestors march for MMIW.
Courtesy of Crystal "Red Bear" Cavalier Keck

Gov. Roy Cooper declared Tuesday, May 5 a “Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.” The advocacy group Shatter the Silence reports that 31 native women have gone missing or been murdered in eastern North Carolina since 1998. The state tracked at least 90 cases of murdered or missing indigenous women in North Carolina since 1994. But advocates say the real numbers are likely much higher. 

Journalist and nonprofit leader Antionette Kerr reported on missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) in North Carolina in the piece “North Carolina officials are ignoring a crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women” for Scalawag Magazine, highlighting the 2017 deaths of three women in Robeson County: Rhonda Jones, Kristin “Christina” Bennet and Megan Oxendine. Their families say they were murdered, but their official cause of death is “undetermined.”

Host Frank Stasio talks with Kerr about the MMIW awareness movement. Crystal “Red Bear” Cavalier Keck and Jane Jacobs also join the conversation. Cavalier Keck is a doctoral student writing her dissertation on MMIW awareness and a member of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation. Jacobs’ sister Korina Locklear was raped and stabbed in Pembroke in 2018. Both point to a history of mistrust between native communities and law enforcement contributing to the problem of high rates of violence against indigenous women.

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Josie Taris left her home in Fayetteville in 2014 to study journalism at Northwestern University. There, she took a class called Journalism of Empathy and found her passion in audio storytelling. She hopes every story she produces challenges the audience's preconceptions of the world. After spending the summer of 2018 working in communications for a Chicago nonprofit, she decided to come home to work for the station she grew up listening to. When she's not working, Josie is likely rooting for the Chicago Cubs or petting every dog she passes on the street.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.