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New doc series Bighorn Murders spotlights crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women

When Henny Scott—a year-old girl from the North Shyan Indian Reservation in Montana— When disappeared in December 2018, it took two weeks for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to issue a missing persons report. “Her report was just on the table because the guy was on vacation,” Scott’s mother, Paula Castro, told documentary makers Lazer Benelli and Matthew Galkin. “Nobody’s been looking for her.” When the body of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places—a 18-year-old girl from the Crow Reservation in Montana—was found in August 2018 was found after her family had not been alerted by local law enforcement for nearly two weeks.

The remains of Scott’s and Places were eventually found in Big Horn County, Montana’s sixth largest county, but the mystery of how they both died remains unsolved to this day. They point to the growing disappearance and murder of Indigenous women and girls in Big Horne, a worrying epidemic and now the new documentary series Big Horn Murders, which debuted at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival last weekend. (It airs on Showtime on Feb. 3.)

The spate of murders explored in three episodes of the docu-series directed by Benally and Galkin is not unique to the region (or state) There is, but Montana has one of the highest rates of missing and murdered Native women in America. “Just because we focus on Bighorn County doesn’t mean other communities and places are less important,” Benally told Vogue. “Big Horne County is the epitome of a massive problem.”

Aboriginal women and girls disappearing under mysterious circumstances in Big Horne County Only local laws apply after bodies are found , law enforcement did not properly investigate their deaths. Although Scott’s body showed signs of abuse, her death was determined to be caused by hypothermia; low; Places’ death was ruled inconclusive. All of these cases are pending while legal authorities avoid accountability for the investigation. If a victim is found on a reservation, that’s the job of the FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs, while if it’s on county land, the local sheriff’s department handles the case. “It’s almost like a game of hot potato,” Benally said.

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