Justice and Protection for Women in Wyoming

The missing of Gabby Petito opens a door of unnoticed and unsolved missing and murder cases of Native American women in Wyoming.

WARNING: This article includes sensitive topics, including murder.

The late disappearance of Gabby Petito opens a door of unnoticed and unsolved missing and murder cases of Native American women in Wyoming.

Since the discovery of Petito’s death and remains in Wyoming on Sunday, many activists are stepping forward to ask where the care and attention are for the Native American women who face the same tragic ending. 

According to Wyoming’s report, Indigenous people make up 21% of homicides in Wyoming, while they are only 3% of the population. Chair of the task force, Cara Chambers, reports only 30% of Indigenous homicide victims had media coverage. However, cases that involved white people had 51% media coverage. 

Chamber explains, “The theme and media portrayal of homicide victims that when you had an Indigenous victim, the articles were more likely to have negative character framing…really focusing more on sort of like where the homicide occurred versus anything about the victim.”

Unfortunately, when people hear of the dark portrayal of Native Americans in homicide, they are discouraged from reporting missing loved ones. 

Many people posted on social media, pointing out that Petito’s social media presence and race make it easier for her to spread across headlines everywhere. Some podcasts and TikToks spent the time to investigate Petito’s case themselves. Active citizens also gave random tips to the media about Petito and her suspicious fiancé, Brian Laundrie.

On the other hand, Native American women are ignored by the media and the general public overall. There is barely any movement or updates on their cases. 

However, in no way should this time be taken to compare Petito to Native American women. There is a much bigger picture. Instead, Petito’s case should be recognized as a platform to open more previous cases not investigated. It is still possible to mourn Petito’s death and also bring awareness to all the Native American women in the same state.

In the last decade, 466 Indigenous women are reported missing in Wyoming. There is still time to help.  

The Native Women’s Wilderness is a helpful website that details statistics and more information about cases involving Native Americans. MMIW USA is also a helpful website that helps bring home the missing women and support the families of the murdered women. The best way to help is by reporting information and spreading accurate information for others to help. For reports and information, call 503-891-0040 or email them at mmiwusa@gmail.com.

If you can, please reach out to MMIW and have conversations with others about this injustice. It is never too late to help.