Remains of missing Native American woman found

Remains of missing Native American woman found
Copyright 2019 CNN
The body of Rosenda Strong, missing since 2018, has been found.

The remains of a Native American woman from Washington who went missing in 2018 have been found, according to a statement from the Yakima County Coroner’s Office.

Rosenda Strong, 32, was last seen leaving the Legends Casino in Toppenish, Washington, in October.

Her remains were found in a freezer in the Toppenish area on July 4 and positively identified by the Yakima County Coroner’s Office using dental records, the coroner’s office statement said.

Strong’s death has been classified as a homicide but her cause of death is still under investigation, the coroner’s office said.

The disappearance

Strong was previously profiled by CNN in a story about Native American women who went missing.

Her sister Cissy Strong-Reyes told CNN in April that tribal police initially dismissed her concerns about Strong’s disappearance because Strong used drugs.

“When I told the cops, they said, ‘well, she’s just probably partying, getting, you know, doing drugs,'” she recalled.

She told CNN the FBI started looking into Strong’s disappearance after getting a call from the Yakama Tribal Police, which she said was understaffed and largely unaccountable.

“People are getting killed, and it’s swept under the rug,” she said. “To me out there, it’s like the wild wild west.”

One of thousands

Thousands of Native American women go missing or are victims of violence every year, both on reservations and in cities. Although reliable, comprehensive data is difficult to come by, one estimate from the National Crime Information Center shows 5,712 reports of missing Native American women in 2016 alone.

In Canada, the problem is so acute that it sparked a national inquiry. But it is less scrutinized in the United States, said Roxanne White, a Native American activist and cousin of Strong, who spoke to CNN earlier this year.

“It hardly gets talked about,” said White. Washington state is one of the few exceptions. Lawmakers there have passed a law requiring the state police to gather data on the number of missing and murdered Native women.

CNN’s Scott McLean and Sheena Jones contributed to this report.