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PBS’ ‘Bring Her Home’ Betrays the Truth, Ignores Missing and Murdered Indian Men

PBS’ ‘Bring Her Home’ Betrays the Truth, Ignores Missing and Murdered Indian Men

Rebecca Stewart

March 17, 2022

Imagine Danokoo Hoaglen were your 16-year-old boy who went missing in Montana almost a year ago and you’ve heard nothing since. He’s just gone. Finding him, or any morsel of information on what happened, would be your most important mission.

Hoaglen is one of more than a thousand missing Native Americans, like Jonathan Kent of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, who disappeared in December at age 15; or Willis Derendoff, age 34, missing without a trace since November 2020. It’s a relative’s worst nightmare, not knowing what happened or where a loved one is.

Whether that person is a son or a daughter makes no difference in the level of strife and determination for finding help and bringing that person home. Whether that’s a son or a daughter should make no difference in the level of help that’s offered from the community.

FBI statistics on the plight of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) are detailed in a report from the National Crime and Information Center. In 2020 there were 918 missing indigenous men and boys and 578 missing women and girls. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control reports105 Indian men and 34 Indian women are murdered each year.

Knowing that 75% of murdered Indians are males, it is puzzling and frustrating to notice that most of the media coverage and political attention highlights only the struggle in the female indigenous population. In fact, a soon-to-be-released PBS documentary titled “Bring Her Home,” focuses only on the plight of women and girls, and provides zero mention of the statistical fact that men and boys make up the majority of missing and murdered indigenous people. Instead, men are spoken of as perpetrators with the comment that society must “reteach men how to be in a relationship with women.” This generalized misrepresentation damages the truth of the process and sadly, stagnates progress for the entirety of indigenous society.

PBS backed up its apparent feminist agenda with a discussion panel on March 15, previewing the “Bring Her Home” premiere. While the panelists were supporting a cause that deserves discussion, they only escalated the one-sided analysis that’s gained the exclusive hashtag #MMIW, in which W (for Women) replaces P (for People). Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women locks out any mention that males are victims of the same problem.

Panel members plead their case that we need to “build systems of justice that help us all;” “we are all responsible to each other;” “how do we not harm each other further;” and “we are all on the same team.” That hint at inclusivity, however, was destroyed with phrases like “holding men who are abusers accountable in our community,” and “we have to look at these men and what’s wrong with them.” No mention was made of the men and boys who are victims of the exact same problems, let alone to a greater extent.

Pushing the hot button of blaming men for a problem that actually affects males at a much higher rate runs contrary to finding solutions based on facts. Wouldn’t the process of solving this common problem work better by including every indigenous victim, rather than ignoring the existence of the majority of them? Native American women and girls deserve truth in this process, too. Every fact must be included to arrive at true solutions when it comes to Native Americans, as a whole, suffering from this murdered and missing epidemic.

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When a Problem Affects 545 Native women, It’s a “Crisis.” But if It Affects 1,681 Native Men, It’s Not.

When a Problem Affects 545 Native women, It’s a “Crisis.” But if It Affects 1,681 Native Men, It’s Not.

Coalition to End Domestic Violence

January 28, 2022

The problem of murdered and missing Indians has been recognized for years. As early as 2019, the Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NaMus) listed 404 missing Native Americans — 250 males and 154 females.[i]

More recently, the Centers for Disease Control released a detailed report on “Homicides of American Indians/Alaska Natives” spanning the years 2003 to 2018.  The CDC report reveals that males represent 75.5% of all Indian victims of homicide — 1,681 male victims and 545 female victims.[ii]

In 2013 Congress added a new section to the federal Violence Against Women Act titled, “Safety for Indian Women.” The record provides no explanation or justification for the exclusion of Indian men.[iii] The VAWA amendment galvanized a fevered national movement known as Murdered and Missing Indian Women, or “MMIW.”


Nine years later, a Google search on the words “murdered and missing indigenous women” turns up 63,300 results. These numbers include media articles, websites, legislative reports, and more.

But a Google search on “murdered and missing indigenous men” turns up a much smaller number — only 1,920 results. Why is there such a disquieting disparity?

Last year, Senators Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska published an editorial titled, “Shocking History of Violence Against Native Women is a Crisis We Can Stop.” The essay repeatedly referred to the “crisis” of murdered, missing, and trafficked Indigenous women.[iv]

But the article made no mention of murdered American Indian men, such as Levi Brian Yellow Mule of the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. Or Russell Shack who was shot by Amber Yazzie during the course of an armed robbery in Gallup, NM. Or the many hundreds of other murdered Indian men.

Apparently, when a problem affects 545 Native women, it’s a “crisis.” But if it affects 1,681 Native men, it’s not.

The American Dream is founded on the pursuit of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Given the pre-eminent importance of “life,” it’s fair to ask: Why do the lives of Native American men seem to count for so much less than the lives of Native American women?