Where Women Vanish, Someone Is Tracking Them

Student Annita Lucchesi creates a database to track missing indigenous women
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2018 2:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Ashley Loring liked writing poetry, riding horseback, and experiencing the low rumble of distant storms. "She wasn't scared of anything," her mother Loxie says at Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana, per NPR. "And for how small she is, she was..." At that point Loxie fights back tears for her daughter, who was 20 when she disappeared from the reservation last June, per ABC News. It's an old story in Indian Country, where up to 300 indigenous women are killed or disappear every year in the US and Canada, but the actual number is unknown because the FBI doesn't really keep track. That's where Annita Lucchesi comes in: A doctoral student at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, she is creating a database to track missing and murdered native women.

Her method is to pepper local law enforcement agencies with public record requests, which has extended her list to 2,000 cases throughout Canada and the US. With the US Congress seemingly stalled in its case-tracking effort, and the Globe & Mail reporting that Canada's inquiry is awash in staff departures, Lucchesi hopes her effort will make people more aware. "Very high rates of criminalization, mental health issues and lack of resources, very high rates of trauma," she tells Montana Public Radio of the indigenous crisis. "All of those things create a perfect storm where rates of violence are very high, not just because people are more likely to be more violent but because Native women are valued less. And there are less ramifications for it."

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