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‘Say their name’: Native families bring awareness to those missing and murdered

<i>KOAT</i><br/>Friends and family march in Shiprock
Friends and family march in Shiprock

By Breana Albizu

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    SHIPROCK, New Mexico (KOAT) — Dozens of families sought justice for their loved ones Saturday morning, many of whom are considered missing or murdered.

Their collaborative efforts were a part of an event at Nizhóní Park to raise awareness within indigenous communities.

“We’re so grieving that we just don’t know what to do anymore,” Shanna Nez, sister of Jevon Descheenie, said.

Emotions from residents were high, with mixed feelings of frustration, sadness, and anger.

Nez said her younger brother, Jevon, went missing October 2021. A month later, a woman claimed to have found his body near a canal in Shiprock.

As of Jan. 29, the family has yet to receive any answers from the Navajo Police Department.

“Nobody’s contacted us to update us on anything, so that’s what we’re here for,” Nez said. “To be his voice. To make it loud and clear that we have not forgotten him.”

A similar story for Geraldine Toya.

Her daughter, Shawna, was missing for hours when her body was found in her vehicle at Phil Chacon Park in Albuquerque July 2021.

“I need to know. I need closure. I need to know who hurt my daughter,” Toya said.

For those in native communities, the issue is far too common.

According to New Mexico’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives (MMIWR) Task Force report, published Dec. 2020, the state has the highest number of cases in the country.

Another 2017 report listed Albuquerque and Gallup in the Top 10 cities with the highest number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

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