Disappearances of Indigenous women get less attention than Gabby Petito’s case, advocates say

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 7:21 AM CDT
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KUTV) - With so much attention on Gabby Petito, some Native Americans have questioned why missing women in their communities have received so little attention in comparison.

Some Indigenous people are feeling hurt, saying the inequality is clear.

Advocates for missing and murdered Indigenous women are bringing up comparisons during the massive search for Gabby Petito and the hunt for her fiance, Brian Laundrie.

“We’re seeing so much resources, money, attention being displayed right in front of us when we have to fight for that same attention,” said Denae Shanidiin, who founded

The families of missing Native Americans often feel their cases are not truly investigated.

“I think it’s hard. It’s hard to see other people matter more than you when we are trying to advocate and do this work on a daily basis,” Shanidiin said.

Earlier this year, KUTV highlighted some of the cases of missing Indigenous women, including Kayla Blackbird and the unsolved murder of Akosita Kaufusi, whose body was found last year near Saltair.

“It’s unfortunate what happened to Gabby, but it’s also shined a light on all this inequality that still exists in our country,” said Utah state Rep. Angela Romero, who leads a legislative task force looking into the failures surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women and how to start to improve the system.

“I think this case just opens that door again to talk about why it’s important to believe women, why its important to do preventative education instead of talking about the aftermath,” she said. “Let’s talk about it before women become victims of sex assault or domestic violence or are murdered.”

The task force has only met a few times. Romero said the next meeting is happening next month in San Juan County.

Tuesday, an autopsy confirmed remains found in Wyoming are Gabby Petito’s. Law enforcement is still looking for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.

Copyright 2021 KUTV via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.