On July 31, 2018, 33-year-old Olivia Lone Bear, from Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and a member of the Spirit Lake Tribe, was found dead in a submerged truck in North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea.
Lone Bear’s death is not an isolated incident—Native American women are sexually assaulted, murdered, and disappearing at rates far higher than other American women. But it is unclear how pervasive the issue is— there is data on missing persons for every other demographic except for Native American women, who are 10 times more likely to be murdered than other Americans.
Between Montana and North Dakota in the Bakken region, the problem has become particularly critical. As transient oil workers take up work and are placed in “man camps” or temporary housing units, attacks on Native American women have increased. But tribal law enforcement has no jurisdiction over these workers and many cases of assault or murder either go unreported or fall between the cracks.
While humanizing grieving families, this project examines why Native American women are targeted with impunity, how the oil industry is involved, and the complications of what “justice” actually means for Native American communities.