Humboldt State University students and faculty listening to Annita Lucchesi name indigenous people in Northern California on Oct. 12 at HSU. | Photo by Luis Lopez.

Missing but never forgotten

Unsolved indigenous people's cases not a priority for law enforcement

Unsolved indigenous people’s cases not a priority for law enforcement

Khadijah Britton, a 23-year-old of indigenous descent, went missing on Feb. 7 in Covelo, California. Britton’s abusive ex-partner was a suspect but because Britton’s body was—and still is—not found, the ex-partner was released.

Cases like Britton’s disappearance are fairly common with many more indigenous people still missing all over California.

Annita Lucchesi, researcher and resident of Humboldt County, came to Humboldt State University on Oct. 12 to present to students her findings on missing indigenous people.

“We can’t address violence we don’t talk about,” Lucchesi said.

Lucchesi brought up issues like police pushing aside missing indigenous people cases and waving off their disappearance as “runaways.”

According to Lucchesi’s findings, about 93 murders and disappearances remain unsolved in California. 25,000 to 30,000 indigenous people have gone missing or have been murdered in the United States and Canada since the 1900’s.

Lucchesi’s researched police documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act requests, include news articles, e-mail respondents and social media posts.

“A lot of the police departments have been very helpful with providing documents,” Lucchesi said.

HSU student Jen Tatman was surprised with how recent some of the cases were.

“This is more prevalent than ever,” Tatman said.

Charley Reed and Daniel Anderson, both students from HSU, left the presentation recognizing the problems with cases of missing indigenous people going cold.

“In order to heal the wound, we first need to recognize that there’s a wound in our community,” Reed said.

“Everyone has a role to play, everyone should get involved,” Anderson said.

Lucchesi’s presentation also provided some solutions to bring the high rate of missing indigenous people to attention.

“Call your local law enforcement, make FOIA requests for these cases,” Lucchesi said. “Building interests in solving these cases, is a community driven effort.”



The article has been updated with a name correction and corrected 1970’s to 1900’s. 10.22.18

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