Rally to remember missing Natives set for Memorial Day

BY D. SEAN ROWLEY
Senior Reporter
05/02/2019 10:30 AM
JAY – Families of three missing Native Americans will attend an event to spur awareness of their loved ones and other American Indians who are missing or have been homicide victims.

Northeast Oklahoma Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives is organizing a rally on Memorial Day – May 27 – to focus attention on the cases of Aubrey Dameron, Ritchie-Vaughn Ellis and Christopher Teel. The event is from noon to 5 p.m. on the Delaware County Courthouse grounds.

“Everything is a go,” said Pam Smith, Dameron’s aunt. “(CN Tribal Councilor) Mike Shambaugh and the county commissioners have opened the courthouse grounds for the rally. We hope everyone will come out to bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous people.”

A study by the Urban Indian Health Institute found that 116 American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls were entered into NamUs, though there were 5,712 such reports with the National Crime Information Center. The study spanned 71 cities across 29 states and included Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

“You really don’t know the magnitude of this – how many people are missing – until it happens to you,” Smith said. “There are many people missing from this area. Some aren’t even sure how to go about reporting a missing person. We invite everyone to come out in support and to learn about the situation. Other tribes are also reaching out, and they will have people here to discuss domestic violence, which also needs understanding. Native Americans seem more closed off when it comes to speaking about it. A number of LGBT groups will also be here in support.”

Smith said NEO MMIR is asking attendees to wear red in remembrance and that the poster for the official flier is being designed by Cherokee artist Keli Gonzales.

Dameron, 25, of Grove, is a Cherokee Nation citizen who is 5-foot-9 and 130 pounds. She is a transitioning transgender Native American with brown eyes, brown hair, a triquetra symbol tattoo on her back and another tattoo reading “shorty” on her upper left arm. She has been entered into the National Crime Information Center and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

She was last seen wearing a thigh-length black skirt, black hose, black leather boots with heels and a black shirt. Dameron has not been seen since about 3:30 a.m. on March 9, when she left her mother’s home near Grove, reportedly to meet with someone.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-522-8017, or the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office at 918-253-4531. Updates on the search for Dameron can be followed on the Facebook page, “Missing-Aubrey-Dameron-from-Grove-Oklahoma.”

Ellis, 27, is a Seneca-Cayuga Nation citizen and Wyandotte resident. He has not been seen since leaving his house on Jan. 21. Wyandotte police say he texted his supervisor to say he would miss work that day and has answered no calls since.

His vehicle was found at Roaring River State Park in Missouri on Jan. 26, but a search did not yield Ellis’ whereabouts. He is 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to call the Wyandotte Police Department at 918-678-3100.

Teel, a Jay resident and CN citizen, was 32 when he was reported missing in 2017. He was staying with an aunt, who reported him missing. Police reported that Teel took no belongings with him. He was last seen wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, jeans and black Nike tennis shoes. Those with information are asked to call the Jay Police Department at 918-253-4277.
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