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‘It’s all of us’: Tribal leaders still seeking solutions for MMIP epidemic

By Breana Albizu

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    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KOAT) — For Vangie Randall-Shorty, her booth is more than a place for information. Rather, it’s a table filled with hope and memories.

All for a son gone way too soon.

“I’m trying to stay strong. I’m still praying that we get justice,” Randall-Shorty, the mother of Zachariah Shorty, said.

However, the emotions are really hard.

Shorty was just 23 years old when his body was found just outside of Farmington. It happened back in July 2020, almost four years ago.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “They have Zach’s body. They’ve got evidence. I just don’t know what it is that they’re missing.”

That’s why she’s looking for answers, and she wanted to find them, at the 2024 “Tribal Leaders Summit”. It’s an annual event hosted by the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW). This year, it was held at the Isleta Resort and Casino on May 22 and 23.

While a majority of the summit focuses on the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous people, officials also cover a variety of issues. From sexual violence and sex trafficking to bullying and violence against children.

“We’re just so excited to be having 18 tribal leaders here, and giving them a rundown of the current issues,” Ryder Jiron, policy communications coordinator for CSVANW, said.

The opportunity serves as a huge gathering for native communities across the state. Like Gov. Jenelle Roybal with the Pueblo of Pojoaque.

She tries to make it out to every conference.

“Like they say, you learn something new every day. I think there’s always something that I need to be more familiar. A different technique out there,” Roybal said.

She’s thankful she’s not alone.

Leaders just like her are vowing to solve problems so that families aren’t left wondering and in the dark. Many of them, still searching for justice.

“It’s a small world. It definitely is,” Roybal said. “Whether it’s a tribal member from another tribe or our tribe, we all feel it.”

Because as she says, it takes a community.

And that includes grieving loved ones just like Randall-Shorty.

“He use to tell me all the time, you know, through his music. You know, ‘everybody is going to know Zach Shorty,'” the mother said. “I think about that. I think about him all the time. And I’m like, you know? Everybody knows you.”

Who like some, isn’t stopping anytime soon.

All in honor of her baby boy.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Shorty.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (505) 889-1300 or go online at

As for the CSVANM, the coalition is planning to host another tribal summit in November at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino.

To learn more about them, visit their website:

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