Emmilee Risling, a local woman who went missing in October.




A story published by the Associated Press on Monday takes a closer look at the nationwide crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW), with a focus on the Yurok Tribe.

Reporter Gillian Flaccus examines the disturbing trend via the case of Emmilee Risling, whose disappearance last fall was just one of five instances in the past 18 months where Indigenous women have gone missing or been killed on the North Coast.

The Yurok Tribe declared a state of emergency in December, with Yurok Tribal Chairman Joseph James asking local, state and federal officials to take a stronger stand against the trafficking of Native women and girls.

The AP story points to this 2021 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which found that “the true number of missing and murdered Indigenous women is unknown due to reporting problems, distrust of law enforcement and jurisdictional conflicts.”

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the country’s first Native American cabinet secretary, recently spoke out about how missing white girls often generate a flurry of media attention while missing Native girls get ignored. This despite the fact, as reported by the AP, that Native American women face murder rates almost triple that of white women, and more than 80 percent have experienced violence.

Emmilee Risling, a 33-year-old Hoopa Valley Tribe member with Yurok and Karuk ancestry, was last seen near Weitchpec in mid-October. The Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribes are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to her safe return.

The AP story notes how the cultural erasure and assimilation campaigns endured by local indigenous students who were forced to attend boarding schools created a legacy of pain:

“That trauma echoes in the form of drug abuse and domestic violence that sends a disproportionate number of children to foster care, said Judge Abby Abinanti, chief judge of the Yurok Tribal Court.”

You can read the full story at this link. Below is a video report that accompanied the piece: