Family presses for answers in the case of missing master weaver Ella Mae Begay

San Juan County • When Ella Mae Begay went missing from her home in Sweetwater, Ariz., on June 15, search groups have been dispatched throughout northern Arizona and into San Juan County, Utah, in an try to find the 62-year-old. However because the investigation has dragged on and because the authorities search for indicators of foul play, an essential facet of Begay’s life has been neglected: her standing as a grasp rug weaver.

The Sweetwater group knew Begay as an completed pictorial rug weaver, a kind of artwork type in Diné (Navajo) tradition, along with being a caregiver, loving elder, and matriarch.

“Her rugs actually converse of who she was,” mentioned Seraphine Warren, who lately walked greater than 150-miles from her aunt’s dwelling in Sweetwater to the Navajo Nation capital of Window Rock, Ariz., to convey consciousness to her aunt, and different lacking and murdered Indigenous folks.

Lacking and murdered Indigenous folks is a public well being disaster. In Utah an Indigenous individual is 4 occasions extra prone to be a sufferer of murder than a white individual, and Indigenous individuals are additionally over-represented in lively circumstances of lacking studies in Utah, with 14% being Native girls and 16% being Native males, based on the nonprofit Restoring Ancestral Winds (RAW), which has mission to finish violence in Utah’s Eight Tribal Nations.

“She put particulars into her rugs,” added Warren, who lives within the Salt Lake Valley, and had been dwelling within the Navajo Nation to assist with the recurrent variety of unresolved searches that additionally prolonged into southeast Utah. “You’ll be able to inform what sort of individual she was, so far as how she took colours and the designs she goes to make.”

A life lived via artwork

A few of these artistic particulars caught the eye of Betty Rivard, of Charleston, West Virginia, who had come throughout Begay’s story within the Navajo Instances and the Salt Lake Tribune, which each reported how the 62-year-old went lacking. In her personal analysis, Rivard related the dots of the pictorial rugs she bought, which she traced again to Begay after in depth on-line searches on the grasp weaver.

Rivard finally contacted the Tribune, considering that the fiber arts group throughout the Southwest may assist fundraise for Warren and her household to search out their lacking aunt.

“Her work has a lifetime of its personal past her,” Rivard informed the Tribune. She purchased certainly one of Begay’s designs from an vintage store in Michigan, after which one other piece on-line from a gallery in Santa Fe.

The pictorials that Rivard bought depict the fashionable residing and story of Diné folks. One rug is printed with black borders and within the center features a story of two houses, sheep, the crimson canyon panorama of the Navajo Nation, and a truck with an open hood, with the phrases, “yah-ta-hey” or “Whats up, welcome!” The second pictorial rug, Rivard observes, is extra developed in design and seems to be a newer piece that made its means from the Shiprock Buying and selling Submit to the gallery in Santa Fe.

(Betty Rivard) Betty Rivard of Charleston, West Virginia, lately bought pictorial rugs woven by Ella Mae Begay, a member of the Navajo Nation who has been lacking since early June.

(Betty Rivard) Betty Rivard of Charleston, West Virginia, lately bought pictorial rugs woven by Ella Mae Begay, a member of the Navajo Nation who has been lacking since early June.

“There’s a lot energy she delivered to her weaving,” added Rivard, who’s a panorama photographer, and started gathering Begay’s rugs due to the vivid particulars of how Begay lives via her weavings. “I simply have the best respect for her as an artist.”

Foul play

In response to Navajo Nation Police Chief Philip Francisco, Begay’s case is now within the fingers of the FBI and the Navajo Nation’s Prison Investigations workforce. Francisco confirmed that Begay’s case modified from lacking to foul play, which enlisted the assistance from the FBI as a result of it’s crime listed underneath the Main Crimes Act.

“We imagine that via the data the FBI has obtained, it’s greater than seemingly that [the case] is foul play fairly than being lacking,” Francisco mentioned.

Francisco added that the Navajo Nation Police Division has performed its greatest to assist with the case, noting it responded to calls early within the investigation, began gathering info, together with tapping into native cell towers to search out any patterns of motion, and relied on a regional community of legislation enforcement businesses to assist with the search.

“I don’t know the right way to change this narrative that legislation enforcement is failing. Why did she go lacking?” Francisco mentioned, including that crime tendencies throughout the Navajo Nation present an affiliation of home violence and alcohol abuse with lacking individuals. “This isn’t a random crime. We all know who these individuals are; they’re related or associated to the household.”

Indigenous girls topic to an epidemic of violence and homicide

Greater than 4 in 5 Indigenous girls in America have skilled violence of their lifetime, based on RAW, which analyzed knowledge from the U.S. Division of Justices’ Nationwide Institutes of Justice. Incidents vary from sexual violence, bodily violence by an intimate accomplice, stalking, and psychological aggression by an intimate accomplice.

Murdered Indigenous girls are killed by an intimate accomplice in 55.4% circumstances, a 2017 report from the U.S. Facilities for Illness and Management and Prevention discovered. When in comparison with different demographics, Indigenous girls are fourth, behind Hispanic/Latino girls (61%), Asian/Pacific Islander girls (57.8%), white girls at 56.8% and Black girls at 51.3% when it comes murder by an intimate accomplice.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez informed the Tribune that the Navajo Nation Police Division, Navajo Nation Prison Investigations, and FBI are on the bottom trying to find Begay, and that he personally met with Warren and different quick relations and requested them to be affected person to permit legislation enforcement to do their investigations.

“Below the management of Chief Francisco, a plan is within the works to enhance the dispatch system and to improve gear to minimize response objects in emergency conditions,” Nez mentioned. “We perceive that extra must be performed to get the phrase out, and get personnel on the bottom faster when an individual is reported lacking. Collectively, we’ve got prayed with the household of Ella Mae, and I’m hopeful that we’ll find her.”

Michael Henderson, director for the Navajo Division of Prison Investigations, said that his workplace continues its investigation with companions.

“We’re testing each lead that reaches our ears, whether or not they’re credible or not,” he mentioned.

From Warren’s perspective, the legislation enforcement businesses aren’t doing sufficient to assist discover her aunt.

“We’re attempting to grasp why that is occurring and no one has taken this severely. There isn’t a compassion or sympathy,” she mentioned.

https://www.sltrib.com/information/2021/08/05/family-presses-answers/ | Household presses for solutions within the case of lacking grasp weaver Ella Mae Begay

Huynh Nguyen

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