Yakama woman mourns murdered niece, calls for justice

Yakama woman mourns murdered niece, calls for justice

Tina Minthorn wants answers.

Her niece Alillia “Lala” Minthorn was found dead in late May in a remote area of the Yakama Nation Reservation.

Within months, Jordan Everett Stevens was arrested and charged with her murder.

“I told her, you can be anything you want. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.,” Tina said. “But for him to take that from her … He had no right.”

Tina says after all the other women who have been murdered or are still missing from the reservation, arresting one suspect is not enough.

“What makes me mad is our tribe, even our laws, even the FBI has done nothing, because she’s indigenous, native, a woman, a homeless person,” Tina said. “Why does it have to take for so many to die for them to do anything?”

Earlier this year, Washington State Patrol released a report that described 56 missing indigenous women statewide. The largest population in that report — which activists say is nowhere close to the total number — was 20 Yakama women.

Tina says she feels like no one cares because they’re native women.

“I don’t want them to think that nobody cares,” Tina said. “It’s a human being, first of all. Not just a native, not just an Indian: a human being. And people don’t look at that.”

Tina says she wants to know how this happened. Somehow, she says an environment was created that allows men to get away with murder.

Tina’s says she also feels like in Alillia’s case, that law enforcement may think nobody cares about her because she was homeless and battling addiction.

“This girl was beautiful. She was intelligent. She was loved by a lot of people, but just because of her lifestyle, that didn’t give him the right to discard her as garbage, to discard her as nothing.

Tina says she and other women on the reservation walk around, afraid that they might be next, that a daughter or cousin or sister might be next.

“I’m afraid of my own people,” Tina said. “I shouldn’t have to be afraid of my own people: I should be able to embrace them.”

Tina says people are afraid to talk about what’s happening on the reservation and that she’s tired of everyone being afraid.

She says she wants someone to do something because It’s been going on too long and too much for it to continue the way it has been.

“I feel bad for my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren because what kind of legacy is that?” Tina said. “You know, to live where there are no laws, where people can do this to us and not be held accountable: that is wrong.”