Christine Tail's Denver Disappearance Adds to Missing Indigenous Women Crisis | Westword

Christine Tail's Disappearance Adds to Missing Indigenous Women Crisis

The case is getting more attention than usual.
Two photos of Christine Tail, who disappeared in Denver.
Two photos of Christine Tail, who disappeared in Denver. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Task Force of Colorado

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Update: Christine Tail has been in touch with authorities, and says she is safe. Read our original story from June 22 below:

The search for Christine Tail, who vanished in Denver last week, is receiving more press and law enforcement attention than usual for a case involving a missing Indigenous woman. But the disappearance itself is all too typical.

Tail was featured in a June 21 CNN report after the Colorado Bureau of Investigation publicly sought the public's assistance in locating her. A flier tweeted by the CBI notes that the 32-year-old was last seen June 14 on the 1400 block of Champa Street, wearing a white T-shirt with a gay-pride logo, blue shorts and white tennis shoes. She's approximately 5' 4" and 130 pounds, with bleached blond hair dyed pink at the tips, and the text of the alert notes that "Christine is from South Dakota and went missing on her first night in Denver."

The flier first noting Tail's disappearance, created by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Task Force of Colorado, includes more specific information, including the fact that Tail disappeared from 891 14th Street, which corresponds to Spire Condos and several businesses that share the building. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women USA has also been leading the search for Tail.

Another group trying to help is Look for Me, a Golden-based nonprofit focusing on the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW). White Owl, Look for Me's crisis coordinator, says he's pleased that the law enforcement and mainstream media are paying attention to her plight. But he sees the level of scrutiny as the exception, not the rule.

"Generally, we get five to seven reports of missing Indigenous women every day, coming from South Dakota, from New Mexico, from the Four Corners, from Montana and Oklahoma," he says.

Brandy Martinez, Look for Me's founder and CEO, thinks one reason Tail's situation is receiving so much publicity might be because of the gay-pride logo on her shirt, since Denver PrideFest is slated to get underway this weekend, June 24-25.

But White Owl also attributes the increased notice to "pressure that people are putting on about MMIW awareness now. I've only been involved with MMIW for the past two years, and before that, I didn't know it was this bad. I didn't know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of missing Indigenous people whose cases haven't even started to be looked into."

Look for Me has been working behind the scenes in recent years to help relatives left to look for loved ones themselves in the face of law enforcement inaction that Martinez and White Owl say often stems from jurisdictional disputes between federal, state, local and tribal agencies. But the nonprofit has broadened its efforts since Aquiline Drones, a Connecticut-based company, agreed to provide drones to search for missing Indigenous women.

During a meeting of tribal leaders and emergency personnel in Rapid City, South Dakota, earlier this month, Look for Me was named the official conduit between Aquiline and the 573 federally recognized tribes in the United States. During the gathering, a drone raffle resulted in one of the devices being presented to the Ogalala Sioux Tribe, to which Tail belongs.

While the search for Tail continues, White Owl hopes that national media outlets and police representatives will be more intentional about shining a light on all missing and murdered Indigenous women.

"It's heartbreaking that more alerts aren't being sent out," he emphasizes, "because Indigenous people go missing every day — every hour, almost every minute."
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