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Activists respond to news of missing Yakama woman found dead

BROWNSTOWN, Wash. - Friends and family are mourning the loss of another missing Yakama woman, after learning her body was identified in May. The man suspected of killing her has been arrested. 
 
25-year-old Alillia “Lala” Minthorn was found dead in a remote area of the Yakama Nation Reservation on May 29, about a month after she was reported missing, according to federal court documents obtained by KAPP-KVEW.
 
Deborah Maytubee Shipman, an activist and executive director at Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women USA, said she was surprised to learn Lala was found in May, and her family and the community is just getting news of it now. 
 
"I thought we were over that with Yakama," she said. Shipman said this is the fourth time she knows of a family having to wait months to find out their loved one has been identified.
 
"They saw us looking, and they said nothing," said Shipman. 
 
An autopsy determined Minthorn died of a gunshot wound to the head and that her death was a homicide, court documents said.
 
Shipman said Minthorn's aunt wrote in every single day that her niece was missing. "To know that we were going back and forth, and then they knew the whole time. It's almost too much for my soul to bear" said Shipman. 
 

FBI investigators arrested 29-year-old Jordan Everett Stevens in connection with Minthorn’s killing. In July, Stevens was indicted for first-degree murder in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

Stevens and Minthorn are both members of the Yakama Nation.

"It's just unthinkable. It's unthinkable. But it's our reality," said Shipman.
 
Emily Washines, a scholar and local activist for missing and murdered indigenous women, said this case "definitely raises questions about what is the protocol being used to inform the community as a whole."
 
She said the whole time authorities knew she was identified, they were scrambling to get information on where she might be. 
 
"On one hand, the community and I gain strength from those stories and the history knowing that we are still here," said Washines. "On the other hand when you see and face this threat as a native woman on the reservation it's scary."

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