Roxanne White raises her fist in the air at the beginning of the prayer walk. Susan Pevo carries a picture of her son Austin Pevo, he's been missing since February 3, 2018.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — The family of Austin Pevo and Carrying the Message organized a prayer walk on behalf of Missing Murdered Indigenous People’s on Saturday, June 8.
The day started with a prayer ceremony by Gifferd Osborne, who spoke words on behalf of missing people not only in this community but all over.
Spring Creek followed with an honor song and Fort Hall Business Council Sergeant of Arms Lee Juan Tyler also offered his own prayer song.
An estimated 200 participants marched from IHS to the west entrance of the old Fort Hall Casino parking lot.
Roxanne White of Seattle, Washington was called upon to organize the event. White is from the Yakama, Nez Perce, Nooksack and Gros Ventre tribes. She is a survivor of human trafficking, domestic violence, being missing and assaulted by more than two men when she was four-years-old. Her aunt was also murdered in front of her in 1996. She currently has a cousin missing, whose name is Rosenda Strong, from the Yakima Indian Reservation since October 2, 2018. She has a niece who was murdered last year in Washington.
White said through her work and sobriety she has been called by the ancestors to bring attention to this epidemic. She believes through prayer and something greater than herself to do this work and carry the message to support families.
“I truly believe that the families voices are the most important ones,” she said. She’s been corresponding with Susan Pevo for over a year, trying to figure out how she can help. She feels it’s important to continue doing the prayer walks, protesting and rallying to call upon all the people in power to pay attention to the families who have missing relatives,” she said. For the relatives that have been murdered there hasn’t been any justice or no proper investigations.
White said historically indigenous people have been silenced and they have this overall thing about not speaking about certain things.
“This is part of the healing, this is part of the medicine for the entire community,” she said.
Families wanting justice and answers for their loved ones participated in the prayer walk.
As participants lined up to walk she instructed them to walk at a slow pace where the elders and little ones would be able to keep up.
“Prayer walks are not meant to be fast, just like when you’re crying and somebody tries to give you a napkin or Kleenex because they don’t want to see you cry. Tears are healing,” she said.
As they walked she asked them to raise their banners and signs, which she called medicine because they were made with prayers, high into the air.
She instructed a group of men to come forth and carry one of the banners because in the United States she commonly hears people talk of missing and murdered indigenous girls, but the missing and murdered indigenous men should be honored too.
Susan Pevo, the mother of Austin Pevo, walked alongside White, as she carried a picture of her son.
At the beginning of the walk, White sang a song meant to honor the missing and murdered indigenous women, but she wants to remember the men too and honor all the missing.
Other missing, murdered community members were remembered throughout the march, including Matthew Broncho; Lionel Hootie Pokibro; Francisco Dimas Martinez; and Rebecca Plentywounds. The marchers chanted their names throughout the walk.
The family of Lionel "Hootie" Pokibro spoke about his death and their search for answers.
Pevo expressed her thanks to all the supporters. She talked about how her son has been gone since February 3, 2018 and to this day they have no leads or clues of his whereabouts. The last time she seen him was when he was dropped off at his employers house. She doesn't know what the police are doing. She was following up with them everyday but always getting the same answers it began to get tiresome. She’s hoping the prayer walk will entice someone to come out and say something about if the know where he is.
Pevo said when they first began planning for the walk it was for her son, but she soon began to realize there are other people on the reservation who have gone missing and have been murdered and there has been no justice for their family.
She thanked White or coming to their aid and helping. She thanked all the families who showed up and brought their loved ones name out so they can be heard.
“It’s hard not knowing where you’re loved one is,” she said through tears. “Or if they’ve been murdered. You want justice for them. You want to be their voice.”
Pevo said she just wants to bring her son home.
“If somebody knows something I’m pleading to the public I just want my son to come home so we can do the right thing. It’s not right for him to be out there somewhere. Wherever he may be,” she said.