An Indigenous mom says if her 2 daughters' deaths 'even had half the coverage' of Gabby Petito's 'maybe they would be solved'

Jocelyn Watt, Jade Wagon are the daughters of Nicole Wagon. Nicole Wagon
Gabby Petito's story has attracted constant media attention.

Nicole Wagon, Northern Arapaho woman said that the same attention could have helped her solve her daughters' cases.

The murder rate of indigenous people is higher than that of other groups and they go missing.

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People across America have been fascinated by Gabby Petito's story. She is a 22-year old white woman who disappeared while traveling cross-country in a van with Brian Laundrie.

The story was covered by both national and local media. The FBI, police departments and search and rescue teams tirelessly pursued clues. Social media detectives meticulously tracked Petito's digital trail. The FBI tip line was flooded with people who were familiar with the couple or had interacted with them.

Petito was last seen on September 19, less than a week after her disappearance. Her body was discovered near Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Nicole Wagon is an Indigenous mother and activist living on Wyoming's Wind River Indian Reservation. She can't help but wonder if the same attention could have affected her daughters' cases.

Wagon stated to Insider that if her daughters had even half the coverage, they might be solved.

Jocelyn Wagon, Wagon's youngest daughter, was murdered in 2019. A year later, Wagon reported Jade missing to her mother. Jade was found dead several weeks later.

Wagon, a Northern Arapaho women, still seeks answers and justice for her daughters, who are just two of many Indigenous people who have disappeared or been killed at higher rates than others.

Wyoming's report found that the homicide rates for Indigenous people between 2010 and 2019 were 26.8%. This is eight times more than the white homicide rate. In Wyoming, 710 Indigenous people, mostly girls were reported missing over the same time period. This report found that only 30% of Indigenous victims of homicide made it into the news, as opposed to 51% for white victims.

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Similar findings were also reported elsewhere. Montana's Indigenous population makes up 7% of its total population, but 26% of all missing persons are from them. Minnesota's Indigenous population makes up just 1% of its state, but 9 percent of all girls and women who are murdered in Minnesota are Indigenous.

Yet, this issue is often overlooked. Multiple states and the federal government established task forces to tackle the problem after activists like Wagon demanded it.

Wagon stated that she is well-known in Wyoming for her work. She goes to marches, meets government officials, hunts for law enforcement and hangs posters about missing persons.

Wagon stated, "I'm advocating for trying to make a difference." What can we do to stop the epidemic of violence against women and men on our reservation?

"My daughters mattered, they counted"

Jocelyn Watt (Wagon's oldest daughter) and Rudy Perez (30, were both shot to death in their Riverton home, Wyoming on January 5, 2019. The double homicide remains unsolved.

Wagon reported Jade Wagon missing a year later. Jade Wagon, aged 23, was found dead at the Wind River Reservation on January 21st. Jade's death has been ruled accidental. Wagon stated that there are still many questions about the circumstances surrounding her death.

According to Wagon, Jocelyn was gifted with her voice. Even though it was difficult for her, she would often sing at funerals the song "Dancing in the Sky", to remember those who had passed.

Wagon stated that it was a blessing for her to have touched so many lives in such a short time. She also said that Jocelyn made each person feel valued.

According to Wagon, Jocelyn was the younger sister of Jade, who was a "beautiful and free spirit" who loved being outdoors. She loved her grandmothers, her sisters, and her children deeply and was respectful of her elders.

Wagon stated, "You could hear her giggle from any crowd. It was so unique. proud."

Wagon stated that her heart goes out to the Petito families. "That mother, I too know the pain."

She said it was hurtful to see how swiftly the case was dealt with and the overwhelming attention that it received.

Wagon asked, "Can you name one native from coast to coast that has received any type of media?" Similar to the Petito case.

She was glad Petito's parents found their daughter, and she is thankful that the case shed some light on other Wyoming cases.

She wants people to understand that her daughters are more than a statistic.

She said, "Their lives mattered and counted." "And nobody knows their stories."

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