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“Nobody’s Doing Anything”: Grief for missing and murdered natives inspires Bill in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska) — A new bill in the Nebraska Legislature would address the unsolved cases of murdered and missing Native Americans, a problem in our state and nationally.

Ashleigh Wabasha, 19, was reported missing on March 27, 2022.

“We’ve been looking for her for a long time, asking people if they know anything,” said her mother, Michelle Denney.

His body was found three weeks later on the Santee Sioux Reservation in northeastern Nebraska.

Her case, as well as that of many other Native women, served as the reason for creating a bill to name a state liaison for missing or murdered Indigenous people.

It was introduced by Senator Jane Raybould of Lincoln.

“For context, Nebraska ranks seventh among the states with the highest number of murdered and missing Indigenous women,” said Rose Godinez of the ACLU of Nebraska.

Many times, relatives of missing natives say they feel they are not treated as a priority compared to other cases.

Wabasha’s family said there were many inconsistencies in the case.

“People are constantly saying my daughter was an accidental death,” said the father, Dewayne Wabasha. “I don’t believe it. We don’t believe it.

Denney felt there was so much that could have been done in the process.

“I was a little upset because I feel like nobody is doing anything,” she said. “No one is doing anything for our daughter.”

The family supports Raybould’s bill and believes the appointment of a liaison would help families like them in the future.

Native American advocates say if the bill passes, the person nominated for the position should be someone who understands what their communities are going through.

“I feel it takes someone who has been in the shoes and has similar life experiences to understand the struggles we go through as Indigenous people,” said Lestian Saul-Merdassi, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe.

As for Wabasha’s case, her family said that although authorities say they are still investigating, it doesn’t appear to be moving forward.

“We’re also grateful that our daughter can still help other people,” Denney said.

Tags: Nebraska Legislative Session 2023, ACLU of Nebraska, Ashleigh Wabasha, Indigenous Women, Legislature, missing Native Americans, murdered Indigenous people, Native Americans, Nebraska, Legislature of Nebraska, Judiciary Committee of the Nebraska Legislature, Santee Sioux Nation, Santee Sioux Tribe Sen. Jane Raybould

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