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Indigenous Communities Struggle With Missing Persons Investigations As They Face Challenges With Support, Resources

“What is justice? And who do I call for help? And where will this go if I do?” said Gina Lopez, a member of the Ute Mountain Ute reservation near Cortez. “We don’t have that same acknowledgment.”

Lopez is the rural and Indigenous communities specialist for CCASA, the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She says the lack of response for cases comes from a lack of visibility as well as distrust among tribal members because of historic trauma. There are also setbacks culturally and legally on the reservation lacking laws for certain crimes like sexual abuse.

“It’s really difficult for survivors to identify what they’re experiencing is not normal,” Lopez told CBS4. “There is no word in our language that covers violence, that covers murder, that covers rape, those things don’t exist in our language.”

The Indigenous community can feel pushed into a corner at times when living in Colorado, where their population is smaller and with only two federally recognized tribes in the state. Lopez is a member of a reservation near Colorado’s southern and western borders. It is a major contrast to her from what she has seen in New Mexico, with a larger population of Indigenous people.

Read the full story here.