Things That Matter

The Remains Of A Woman From The Umatilla Indian Reservation Have Been Found In A Freezer

In the United States, violence against Indigenous women has climbed at a staggeringly higher rate than the ones acted out on women who are non-Indigenous. According to reports, 84% of Indigenous women will report having experienced some act of violence within their lifetime. Within this number, 56% of women will experience sexual violence and 55% will be violated by a romantic or sexual partner. In 2016, the National Crime Information Center revealed 5,712 reports of Native American women who had gone missing. And yet, according to advocates, tracking the number of missing indigenous women cases is nearly impossible. Primarily because many of the databases keep track of these women are outdated.

In other words, thousands of Indigenous women go missing and forgotten each year due to a lack of diligence and training by law enforcement.  Last year, Cissy Strong Reyes’s sister Rosenda Strong went missing. Her fight to ensure her sister did not become a part of these statistics ended this week when the body of Rosenda was found in a freezer. 

Rosenda Strong, a 31-year-old, went missing in October of last year. 

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The mother of four went missing in October of 2018 in Toppenish, WA after last being seen leaving the Legends Casino in the area.  Strong, who is a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and a descendant of the Yakama Nation, had been declared missing ever since.

Last Friday, after nearly a year-long fight to find her sister and bring her home, Rosenda’s sister Cissy learned of her sister’s brutal murder 

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“My baby sister Rosenda Strong’s remains found in a freezer. Yes, it has been confirmed to me this morning from the FBI agent working on my sister’s case,” she posted to Facebook. “We have her back, not the way we wanted, but we can after 275 days of looking, wondering, our baby sister, mother, aunt, cousin, friend is coming home to our mother….Now we can finally lay my sister to rest.”

Rosenda’s death has been ruled as a homicide, with the cause of death still under investigation. 

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According to reports, the Yakima County Coroner’s Office identified Rosenda’s remains which were found in a freezer in the Toppenish area on July 4.  The Seattle Times reported that two homeless men found Rosenda’s remains in an unplugged freezer. Yakama Nation tribal police and the FBI responded to the discovery of the body because the remains were found in the Yakama Nation.

According to the local KIMA-TV station, Rosenda’s family and friends gathered with her community for a candlelight vigil in her memory on Sunday evening.

According to KIMA-TV, many used the vigil as an opportunity to honor Rosenda and raise awareness of missing native women. During the vigil, Rosenda’s sister Cissy recalled “She’d always make me look in her eyes and she said, ‘I love you. I’ll be back, okay?’ And I said okay, love you. And she walked out the door. That was my last memory of her.”

Should you have any information on the Rosenda Strong case, please call the Yakama Nation Police Department at 509-865-2933 or the FBI at 509-990-0857, citing case number 18-010803.

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