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Daughter of missing indigenous person in Oregon speaks out

Those in the Native American community, including the daughter of a missing person react to the newly released report.

Posted: Feb 21, 2021 7:37 PM
Updated: Feb 22, 2021 7:58 AM

EUGENE, Ore.-- Carolyn DeFord is the daughter of Leona Sharon Kinsey, a Native American woman who has been missing since October 25, 1999.

"My mother was misclassified for 18 years as white," DeFord said. "She was over 18 years old when she went missing so she had a right to privacy."

DeFord said this right prevented law enforcement from investigating more into this unsolved case. 

A report released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon on Friday marks a milestone in the nation's relatively new effort to compile and investigate reports of missing and murdered Native Americans. One of the ways they plan to address this issue is through an action plan where they will schedule virtual consultations with federally recognized tribes.

"They're saying only federally recognized but they're not even considering Chinook and it's the largest tribe in the Midwest," Shipman said.

Anthropologist David G. Lewis also said the federal government is still not doing enough to address this crisis.

"They've never given enough money or attention to these tribes or tribal problems. In fact, they've tried to wipe out tribes by imposing policies of assimilation," Lewis said.

Some of the missing people in the report are in our viewing area, including Jerome Clements Charles who went missing in Eugene in 1984 and Zachary Porter who went missing in North Bend in 2013. 

“For generations, American Indians and Alaskan Natives have suffered from disproportionately high levels of violence. Tragically, this is not a crisis of the past; it’s a crisis of the present,” said U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. “In this report, we look back and forward, summarizing what is known about missing and murdered Indigenous people in Oregon and outlining our plans and goals for the year ahead. While we won’t solve this problem overnight, our office is working closely with Oregon law enforcement partners, other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and the U.S. Department of Justice to end endemic violence in Indian Country.”

The Justice Department launched the "Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons" initiative in November of 2019 — the culmination of a grassroots effort to bring more attention to the phenomenon of unsolved cases among Native American communities in the U.S. Oregon's report is the first in the nation to be produced.

The report notes that investigation of missing person or murder cases in Indian Country has traditionally been hampered by issues of jurisdiction, lack of coordination, and inadequate resources.

One of the primary purposes of this first report was to compile unsolved cases of missing or murdered people from Oregon Tribes, combining data previously held separately by Oregon State Police, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

The data drawn from those different databases produced 19 unsolved cases tied to Oregon — 11 missing (six women and five men) and 8 murdered (five women and three men). All are Indigenous persons, most of them members of an Oregon Tribe. Some held Tribal affiliation in different areas of the country, but were last seen in Oregon.

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