Top 10 Stories of 2021 | No. 7: Marchers frustrated, feel pain of loss
Seraphine Warren decided to march from Sweetwater, Arizona, to Window Rock on July 19 to raise awareness on the lack of support from the Navajo Police and Navajo Nation leadership in regards to her aunt’s sudden disappearance.
Warren, volunteers and the Navajo Police have searched for Ellamae Begay endlessly since her disappearance in the early morning of June 15.
Warren grew frustrated with the lack of communication and updates from the law enforcement and decided to march to Window Rock.
Her uncle disapproved of her decision, letting her know that it would be faster if they drove to Window Rock to speak with Navajo Nation leaders.
“That’s the point of the walk,” Warren said to her uncle, “I want to show the Navajo Police and our leaders how slow their system is. I want them to see that this walk not only shows my determination, but how slow they handle their cases.”
Prior to her march, Warren had been in contact with Restoring Ancestral Winds, an organization based in Salt Lake City, whose mission is to help support healing in indigenous communities.
RAW helped Warren and found out she would be walking to Window Rock. Sandra Lee, a RAW representative, drove to Sweetwater to walk in solidarity with Warren.
Lee understood the pain Warren was going through because she dealt with the same frustration with the Navajo Police in 1984 after her sister, Priscilla Lee, was murdered.
“This made me feel that after all these years, nothing has changed with the Navajo Police,” said Lee, “You would think with the new technology, the police force would be better equipped and well-trained to handle capital crime. It is hard to understand why nothing has improved.”
As the ladies marched to Window Rock, they were joined by many people who said they lost confidence in the Navajo Police and the police did not uphold the safety of the Navajo people.
On July 23, the women made their way to the front of the Navajo Nation president’s office with a group of 35 people.
President Jonathon Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer, Delegate Charlene Tso, Director of Public Safety Jesse Delmare, Director of Criminal Investigations Micheal Henderson, and Speaker Seth Damon all spoke to the marchers.
Nez said there will be monthly meetings on the missing and murdered and planned to place cameras along highways out of border towns to keep a watchful eye on possibly missing vehicles.
Warren said, “I sure hope I was able to wake up the people, to wake up our nation’s leaders. I don’t wish this type of pain on anyone. I just want my aunt back.”
The investigation of Ellamae Begay is still ongoing as it is for the following individuals:
• Jamie Lynette Yazzie missing since June 30, 2019.
• Norman George Lee, missing since April 29, 2021.
• Ranelle Rose Bennett missing since June. 15, 2021.
• Candace C. Manuelito missing since Sept. 17, 2021.
• Marie Gene Benally missing Nov. 10, 2021.