I've not shared more than vague notions of what I've been in the midst of for the past five years. In part because of safety issues related all things FB: I've had people log into my account and read all of my messages, there are fake accounts that pretend to be 'friends' or followers of the page trying to elicit information as well as the perennial 'where are you *exactly* questions when no one needs to know exactly where I am. The other part of withholding information is that it takes a lot of energy to navigate this with those who only have a passing curiosity, disbelief is their guide and/or no interest in diving deep. Because, y'all, this is deep.
When I was brought into the desert nearly 5 years ago, my faith and naïveté were walked right into a criminal network that operates out of the Phoenix Metro area. It's base is the Gila River rez and it is partnered with the Sinaloan cartel, moving drugs, weapons, cash as well as women and girls across the continent. The Indian casino circuit provides the foundation for much of this activity. Sinaloan and Gila River monies are laundered in casinos across the US and, ironically, meander their way to white supremacist groups in places like UT, ID, CO, AZ and more--as do the weapons. Think about that for a hot second: money gained illicitly by and weapons sold by Native American and Mexican criminal organizations is making it's way to the very organizations whose mission is to eradicate them.
These two organizations operate separately, each with their own organizational hierarchy and in partnership, each providing the other access to support systems and revenue streams. The GRC buys women and girls (among other things) from the Sinaloans and sells them to other individuals across the country for forced prostitution. In addition, the GRC uses it's own networks across the continent to lure and entrap young women, choosing from urban and rural Native communities, the most marginalized populations across Mexico, the US and Canada.
In their wake, they leave buried bodies and devastated communities. It is the bodies with whom I have the most intimate connection. They call to me, using their own voices or those of the elements, praying to go home.
When I was in the desert, the visions I had about women underground were the those within the figurative underground and those, who in vision alive, dead and buried. Bear claws tearing at the earth around them waiting to be found. I circled in car and on foot where, unbeknown to me at the time, over 30 bodies had been thrown away over the course of two decades.
What I perceived as a future 'rescue', presumably one in which live humans were brought home, was the call for the bones of women and girls who, once used, had been buried in the sand to be forgotten; as if their being, their humanness, was merely a disposable commodity to the woman who runs this particular network.
For five years, I have circled around this is so many ways. I've prayed, I've tried walking away, I've become more connected to the ground than I have my own body, lost in the density of prayer, grief and hope. While doing so, I've been in the position to watch how Indigenous and White governments choose to observe rather than act. Of course there are a litany of reasons. Jurisdiction is the most frequently used reason however that is not the heart of it. It's convenient, casts little blame while offering a shrugged explanation.
This began not decades ago when Indian gaming was introduced. This method of theft and disappearance of the Indian body is centuries old. The Gila River and Sinaloan cartels have histories together going back to the hundreds of years before Spanish breached the shore of Mexico. It is an organism that is its own life sustaining force even beyond the fear across communities that feeds it.
This is the thing that the gods and desert and skies and hearts and winged ones and things of the earth and beings of the hearths have tired of. They can only hold so many prayers prayed by the mothers of daughters, the daughters of fathers, and the grandmothers who live to see them stolen and die. The ground has held enough of their blood, the winds have sung enough of their cries and the water can only wash so much pain away.
It is for this I've been pushing through the past five years. It is for this I struggle mightily to be seen. So, now I speak. After seven years of hearing, 'Speak, child. Speak,' I speak. I speak for the mothers that couldn't and can't and won't. I speak for the daughters yet to come and those lost to time.
I will be quiet no longer. Danger is as danger does. It either is right around the corner or isn't. That cannot be the thing that meters my volume.
There are so many levels within and surrounding this that I'll tell in bits and pieces as the future unfolds.
Thank you to those who continue to support me. I'm eternally grateful for your faith in me even as I falter in my own.