The Real Conspiracy Here

The greatest conspiracy here is complacency.

If the amount of energy being used (and consumed) by folks perpetuating the “obviousness” of Epstein’s “suicide” were actually being put into talking about the tens of thousands of young people who are impacted by sexual slavery, or engaging with organizations that work for and with them, we’d have less of a problem.

If the energies put toward the ‘conspiracy’ of your neighbors, preachers, parents, teachers, mayors, medicine men, dentists, doctors, plumbers, cashiers, bartenders, board members, casinos, hotels were to match the current ‘trend’, we’d have less of a problem.

If folks would stop trying to ‘raise other people’s vibration’ and actually engage in the work of active loving, we’d begin solving the problem.

If we’d stop bitching about those in power and call them on their shit productively (and vote, there’s that), we’d begin solving the problem.

If we’d stop isolating and hiding real sex and celebrating the not-so-real, we’d start solving the problem

If we’d include other human beings in our ‘defense of the sacred’, we’d start solving the problem.

If we’d stop saying things like “just a whore” or “someone should beat some sense into her” or “she’s going to be just like whateverthederogatorytrend of the day is”, if we’d stop making fun of people who think and dress differently, we’d begin changing the problem.

If we would start losing our own language of violence, we’d begin to solve the problem. If we’d begin to value brown skinned people as if they, too, walked with the holiest of the holies, we’d begin to solve the problem If women would begin accepting responsibility about how we’ve taught me that this is okay—especially by our silence–then we’d begin to solve the problem

And, to state the obvious, If we’d stop fucking children–in every way, there would be no problem.

I’m using WE here purposefully. There is a collective responsibility shared here. Jeffery Epstein? His pocket of the slave trade is a mere drop in the bucket.

The same way it’s ‘trending’ to talk about those in power subverting justice in his case, it should be trending to talk about how we each do the same thing in our day to day life, whether it’s our language, who we vote or give money to, who and what we ignore because it’s someone else’s business, how we choose to find sexual release, empower our children–including their sexuality, or disempower our other women-because of their sexuality, look out for our neighbor, or say nothing rather than something.

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The Mystery of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women?

There is no mystery here

What follows is an element of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women phenomenon. It is the story of those who are intentionally disappeared to be sexually exploited and how I came to be involved in it. At then end, I’m going to ask for your help. On this day of remembrance and recognition, I share this in honor of Ariel Begay, her mother Jackie, Grandfather Edsitty, their surviving family; Tanya Begay, Ashley Collins and Misty Rain Bedonie, and the girl with the pink flower in her hair.


Indigenous women, men and children from across the continent are intentionally disappeared with the purpose of being held and sold as sex slaves in a multinational criminal network. This network, whose primary ‘hive’ is located in the Phoenix metropolitan area, is a multinational one. And it’s hub is located on an Indian Reservation.

Those that are being held in this place, are held underground in a system that uses wells, former mines, and the ancient canal system developed by the Huhugam. They are held–underground!–until the time comes to be auctioned, unless they die while in captivity. Near such time, they are moved to the ISM raceway, force to clean up at mobile showers there. At least one auction a year is held there or near there using good old-fashioned radio technology. Sold to the highest bidder to be fucked to death.

Women, men and children  from indigenous communities are intentionally disappeared, many times from within their communities, to be held in captivity (hundreds literally held under the ground in the desert) bought and sold for the purposes of sexual exploitation by those within indigenous communities–often with the full awareness and agreement of tribal leadership— until they cannot be exploited anymore-when they die or are killed (including during the sexual act).  When they are killed their bodies are buried, sunk or burned but not before someone qualified determines whether their organs are harvestable. Stop here and think about that paragraph. Then breathe and think some more about how many people it takes to pull off an operation like this.

There is no other way to clearly express what these young people are disappeared for. To have sex as many times as possible until they have no more use for someone else’s financial benefit. They are then killed or they die in the process. Their journey to the point of auction, includes points of contact with people in their communities and outside the community, like in the case of one recently disappeared Native woman in Montana, two young women from Dulce, New Mexico, and their associate in Montana developed an online ‘friendship’, then met in person at a bar, and the victim was disappeared. In addition to those who select, hunt, trap and broker the victims, there are drug dealers, dentists, doctors, preachers, medicine men and other esteemed community members involved.

Their complicity is aided by many, many others that fuel a partnership between the Sinaloa cartel and Indian Gaming. They include elected officials from the:

  • Gila River Indian Community
  • Tohono O’odham Nation
  • Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara
  • Hia Ced O’odham
  • Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
  • Salt River Pima-Maricopa
  • San Carlos Chiricahua
  • Mescalero Apache
  • Siksika Nation
  • Cowesses
  • Brokenhead Ojibwe
  • Cherokee Nation
  • Shoshone Bannock
  • Prairie Band Potowatami
  • Acoma Pueblo
  • Jicarilla Apache
  • Jemez Pueblo
  • Kickapoo Nation
  • Caddo Nation
  • Ponca Nation
  • Osage Nation
  • Choctaw Nation
  • Fort Mohave Tribe
  • Kahkewistakew First Nation
  • Cocopah Tribe
  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
  • Chiricahua Apache-New Mexico and Oklahoma
  • Eastern Shawnee Tribe
  • Wichita and Afflilated Tribes
  • Spokane Tribe
  • Nooksack
  • Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla
  • Picayune Rancheria Chukchansi
  • Southern Ute
  • Hoopa Valley Tribe
  • Cabazon Band of Mission Indians
  • Pauma Tribe of Luiseno
  • and more

Other active participants in what I’m now calling the enforced disappearance of indigenous women from across the North American continent include:

  • former and sitting judges from the Navajo bench and one sitting on the New Mexico Court of Appeals;
  • state senators from Arizona, Colorado, North Dakota, North Carolina and Ohio; staff of Senators serving in Washington, DC, from Arizona and North Dakota
  • a policy analyst in the State of Washington legislature
  • provincial representatives in Winnipeg and Toronto, and a member of the Parliament of Singapore
  • lawyers from Arizona, West Virginia, Kansas, Wisconsin and South Dakota
  • a Museum of the American Indian Board of Trustees member
  • a nationally recognized Navajo author and educator
  • journalists in the US and abroad
  • CEOs & upper management of international oil, entertainment, property management, hotels and manufacturing companies
      • including those sitting on the Boards of General Electric and Goodwill Industries, the National Hot Rod Association, and Gillette
  • heroin wholesalers
  • an English jeweler
  • Russian, Chinese, Japanese and American Ambassadors
  • rock musicians, a boxer and a Native flautist
  • Nuns and teachers
  • AIM members across the country
  • some people who work the Pow Wow circuit
  • Tribal and local police sprinkled from small towns like Odessa, TX, and Engleman Township, IL,  and big cities like Vancouver, BC, across the continent including:
      • BIA officers at Standing Rock who publicly pimp young women
      • a sheriff’s department in Arizona
      • a former law enforcement commander who is now a state legislator
      • county Sheriff’s deputies in Montana
  • a favorite fashion model of Georgio Armani
  • a custom machining shop in Illinois
  • leadership of an ammunitions manufacturer
  • a sand and gravel company in Montana
  • an Airborne Ranger at the Pentagon
  • an unknown people at the MCAS Cherry Point
  • upper level management of DARPA
  • a manager of a non-profit organization that advertises themselves as a law enforcement trainer and facilitator of family reunification of missing persons
  • professors and directors at Arizona State University
  • real estate agents and developers
  • and more

When they are sold for the purposes of sexual exploitation in the United States and Canada, these ‘disappeared’ young people are moved across the country and to other continents to be ‘worked’ out of more than 120 Native owned casinos (as well as those owned by provincial governments in Canada), Embassy Row in Marrakesh, casinos in South Africa, South Asia, and the European Union,  in addition to ‘working’ through webcam and pornography services, and call-out and call-in services.

In addition, the international nature of this criminal partnership includes the disappearing of young women (and men) from Eastern Europe, the EU, Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Peru, many of whom are from indigenous communities. They are brought to the US, bought and sold here and potentially sent on to other places across the globe where they are forced to work along with those from indigenous communities from Germany, North America in Singapore, Seoul, France, Amsterdam, Laos and elsewhere.

Among those that facilitate the movement, pimping and ‘management’ (and deaths) of these young people are two Native-owned casino development and consultancy companies, a Native American at Goldman Sachs whose career and professional relationships began with work in a California Indian-owned casino, several people connected to the Seminole ownership of the Hard Rock brand and it’s casino and resort expansion across the globe. And some other Nations formalized their criminal relationships and partnerships with each other at Standing Rock while the rest of us were there to help protect and heal water and communities.


The Fuckery is what I’ve named this unfolding relationship between disappeared Indigenous women, law enforcement, and organized crime that began for me  September 2017.  It’s the most apt description and, at this point, I no longer refrain from using it with those who might be offended. Because that’s what this is. There is no way to pretty it up; not only is that like putting lipstick on a mud-covered pig but, in my view, there is no other way to adequately express the institutionalized system that exists solely to pad the pockets through selling sex with children and young people.

In September 2017, a Navajo police officer with whom I’d worked in the past, sent me a missing person’s flyer and asked, ‘What do you feel from this?”. After Old Ones sent me on what I thought was an expensive, exhausting and unproductive trip into Alberta and Saskatchewan the month prior, I had no desire to engage with anything in Diné country. My desire for quiet and rest ended when he said, “She’s in Phoenix.” I had no reason to doubt him. I know well how his own gifted nature works through him. I didn’t have to ask, “So, they want me to go get her?” Because that’s exactly what was being asked.  In fact, not asked; demanded.

Beginning that night, people with whom I have limited (or no) connection outside Facebook, shared with me their dreams and said things like, “I don’t know how I know to tell you this is for or about you.”  They didn’t need to. I knew what the Old Man hollering, “Gallop, Josephine!! Gallop!!”, from the back of a running horse meant. From the night of September 6, the day the Navajo police officer reached out, visions began flooding me with information. Crystal clear, no interpretation needed visual information including who, what, where, when, why and how.  I may have wanted peace and rest but that wasn’t going to happen. Not then, not now.

Within days I was on the road from the mountains of Montana to the desert of Arizona. In my mind, seven to ten days seemed about right. I’d done more in less time before so that’s what I packed for. It made as much sense to me as saying to the missing woman’s mother, when she asked if she needed to give me any money, “No. That’s not what this is about. However, if I bring her home, mutton stew would be pretty amazing!”

I arrived in the Phoenix area on September 14. I was at the local FBI office four days later and, during a nearly two hour interview, I gave what I felt was actionable information, including webcam sites where other missing Native girls and women were being forced to work, an address on the southern border city of Nogales, and more. I watched the skin on the arms of the agent in front of me repeatedly rise as the truth connected with her and then left, never hearing a word. A few hours later I met a man who is key in the disappearance and enslavement of women and children. I shook his hand at the beginning of our conversation and shook my head when I left after he lied to me. It was in that moment, too, I realized I’d been set up in the most spectacular way of spirit.  I wasn’t in the desert to find and bring home one young woman. I was there for many.

The visions and visitations didn’t stop. Information came from the desert herself, blowing sands and stalwart stone like beacons. And, three days after initially reporting to the FBI, I found a place where young people are held in darkened captivity, to be sold into sexual slavery, supervised by the same esteemed member of the local indigenous community who lied to me. And, I attempted to reach out to the FBI again. Several times. There was no response.

One month later, on October 17, the day I learned that Ariel Begay was, in fact, dead,  I made contact with an FBI agent in Tucson who, I initially thought, didn’t pay attention to what I’d shared. One year later, I learned the opposite; that he cared enough to report it to somebody within the criminal network that, in turn, put a $50,000 price on my head.

The details of the underground location were shared with multiple federal agents and a lieutenant in the Gila River Police Department. When we spoke, he did not raise an eyebrow at the names I gave him but looked ready to shake me by the shoulders when I told him where I’d been led to and been making my presence known. “That’s the most dangerous place on the reservation!”. I told him I was well aware of that. It was the place I almost got shot, was told by residents that there was no help to be found there and I better get the fuck out) and there was no action. I was told that would not happen because there would be no way to get a Federal warrant to search the premises; not enough proof. However, “If you were to call 911 from there, we’d come running!”.

By November 10, 2017, I realized that I was actively followed and targeted by those involved in the network or the FBI. I thought safeguards were put into place once I realized the how close they were (enough to take photographs of me at night!) and how they found me (nothing is as secure electronically as you think it is!) but that was not as it seemed. As 2018 began to unfold, I was given information that I didn’t put together for three months. Visions of crossword clues and road runners would get my attention but it wasn’t weeks passed before I learned that I was not only under electronic surveillance but I was being physically watched from 200 yards away. In late March that gap was closed when a drone was sent to my bedroom window and I fled days later.

In those unfolding seven months, I nearly got shot, someone tried to file a restraining order against me after I asked them for help and another, again when I asked for help said, “You’re not going to get that here! Get the fuck out of here, lady!”, I reached out to countless non-profits, retired DEA agents, tribal, local and federal law enforcement, and people of the medicine way, all to no avail.

When the journey began in September, one of the questions I asked was of the group of Old Ones, “Will I have help?” “On your own”, was the reply. They weren’t kidding. Not that I was entirely alone. I never really am but as friend after friend bailed in fear, loneliness and abandonment became like fuel until the body and mind brought me to the point of deep despair. Each time, though, when I considered walking away, I was brought back when Mother Mary and others visited. Their visitations buoyed my spirits but also reminded me that if I was feeling lonely and abandoned, how could I, in turn, abandon those who had been disappeared, brokered, held in the dark to be turned over to be fucked to death? How could I leave them when I was the only one seeking their freedom and knew where they were? Guilt and shame repeatedly rolled  through (and still do) for not doing enough, not being enough, not trying enough, not being noisy enough, not being smart enough, not being brave enough. Rage came with it; rage that others weren’t doing enough, were making noise but not listening, making noise while actively participating in the disappearing of others, or not doing anything despite knowing the horror faced by these captive children and women.

When I fled the desert for the sanctuary of the mountains, I thought I had enough information to engage federal law enforcement again. I was wrong. I was ignored when I reached out to the FBI, US Attorney, and six US Senators. However, though I felt ignored and alone, I learned that I was not. I learned I’d been under electronic surveillance by the FBI for months. (Yes, it’s legal. Warrantless surveillance is allowed under a couple of circumstances: a) if they believe a life  is in danger, or b) the subject is part of organized crime.

Information continued to flow through ways considered spiritual and the more obvious slips of the tongue like a local cop who didn’t expect me to hear, “Someone is telling Ingrid way too much” and being part of the experience where law enforcement responsible for my safety and that of victims chose to make traffickers safe instead.

The last time I attempted contact the FBI was when I received information I believed indicated a body dump in the Phoenix metropolitan area in October 2017. I never heard back but continue to receive the locations of many more hidden individual and mass graves across the continent of those who have been killed during transportation, of drug overdose while being held or in the process of being kidnapped, or during the act of sex.

After my conversation with a female legislator from the Blackfeet Nation, nearly a year after this unfolding began, I reached out to women in formal and informal Indigenous leadership, who Ancestors suggested would be helpful, in the Osage, Cherokee, Odawa, and Crow Nations. I was ignored by a former judge, current councilwoman, and environmental activist, just as I was ignored by law enforcement again when I went to them with specific information on the disappearance of Jermain Charlo in Montana, and when I asked a singer for something as simple as a prayer sung for freedom.

I feel the need to repeat a few things that may be lost in the text: Women, men and children  from indigenous communities are intentionally disappeared, many times from within their communities, to be held in captivity (hundreds literally held under the ground in the desert) bought and sold for the purposes of sexual exploitation by those within indigenous communities–with the full awareness and agreement of tribal leadership— until they cannot be exploited anymore-when they die or are killed (including during the sexual act)!  When they are killed their bodies are buried, sunk or burned but not before someone qualified determines whether their organs are harvestable. Stop here and think about that paragraph. Then breathe and think some more about how many people it takes to pull off an operation like this. Not just those above, they are key elements, but between each of them are many, many people.

Think about this: active and retired personnel and operational infrastructure of the United States military is used to perpetuate the sexual slavery of women, men and children.

Think about this: the very mechanism fought for thirty years ago to help support the sovereignty and economic stability for First Nations and Native American communities are primary locales where indigenous women, men, and children are enslaved for sexual exploitation. To be more clear, Indian women, men and children are disappeared, bought and sold by those in and working with Indian communities, to be fucked (literally and figuratively) in Indian casinos (and non-Indian casinos in the US and abroad), and other venues until they have lost their monetary value as objects of sexual pleasure. 

Despite the fact that a Blackfeet legislator suggested I write a novel–“It’ll read like a thriller!”–there is nothing fiction here. This is real. This is every day. This is recorded on security cameras in every casino, from the friendly relationships between on-site tribal police and pimps, to underage girls being led by older men through the lobby in the wee hours, to security facilitating prostitution in restricted-to-guests spaces. Security, bar staff, housekeeping, other floor staff and managers–everyone knows. Guests share openly, telling strangers of their liaisons with victims of trafficking in casino resorts.

The journey these young people are thrust into is one that no human should have to experience. Yet, they do by the thousands. Every day.  The phrase ‘someone knows something’ is used a lot by the online community that helps spread the word about missing Indigenous women and children.  In this case, ‘someone’ means many, many, many people know and do nothing. Of those many is Federal law enforcement officers; figured into the gaming industry is organized crime so the Departments of Treasury and the FBI are regularly in Indian casinos and certainly a fixture in those around the Phoenix Metro area.


It’s been suggested more than once to me that “Of course, the FBI knows right? They must, right?:  Yes, they must. They know enough to put me under electronic surveillance and tell a Montana cop, “Someone is telling Ingrid way too much.”  Yet, they and the US Attorney’s Office have refused to engage. Why? Is it because I’ve been labeled ‘the crazy psychic lady’? Perhaps, but if that’s the case, why did a supervisor (assuming there was no warrant) or a judge (because maybe a warrant was signed) sign off on, at the very least, electronic surveillance.

That births a few more questions: If, indeed, the FBI and/or other federal law enforcement officers are aware of this network then why has it not acted? Is it because victims are brown-skinned or foreign? Is it because “they’re just whores”? That they have no , say, political value?  Is it because victims are not terrorists or the perpetrators are not (although they fit the definition if one considers that fifty percent of the population of Indigenous communities is, in fact, terrorized by a criminal network)? Perhaps, federal law enforcement is enamored with catching the Big Cat, a leader of the cartel who is more ‘valued’? Is this network is too large to intervene? Is it because agencies operate within silos and with inherent racial and ethnic biases? Is it because, somehow, they benefit from the victimization of these young people? I don’t think any one of these things or a combination of them is too far a reach.

We know why the cartels do it. Money. There’s lots of money in sex on demand.  We have a pretty good idea that some of those involved in the pipeline, because that’s what it is–the movement of ‘goods’ along an enclosed yet visible infrastructure to another location–do it for a lot less money, or, perhaps, threats against their life; “the bullet or the bribe” is real. We can also make educated guesses about the motivations behind casino development and management companies actively supporting sexual trafficking: protection from the cartel and an additional revenue stream, for instance.  However, there are those within the above lists I would really like to ask a simple, “Why? What motivates you to participate in the continued decimation of your relatives?”

I’ve said before that this won’t be legislated or enforced away. It is an institutionalized phenomenon that exists, in part, because of legislation and enforcement. It is part of a larger culture in which the fruits of multiple billions of dollars are enjoyed by those of power and privilege. It’s up to us and the industry that supports it.

I cannot do it alone. Who will stand with me? Who of you attending the 2019 South Sound Human Trafficking in Indian Country Conference, held this week at the Emerald Queen casino, will openly challenge casino management about the practice of supporting the prostitution of trafficked women in their casino?  Who will have the courage that the young women who try to claw their way out of imprisonment walls have? Who will stand, not just with me and the Old Ones, but with those who suffer because ‘someone knows something’ and has done nothing.  Because many someones know something and do nothing. Who has the courage to meet the fear, the power structures, and greed-machine with me?

Please help me.

Please help the little girls with the pink flowers in their hair. Please help me help the young women who cry for freedom. Their prayers have been heard. Will you help me answer them?


And, yes, of course I’m aware you’ve read this.  Where does your courage and your heart lie? Why?  Can you say that out loud to your grandmother, and her mother? She knows. They know. I know. Have you told your own mother? Why not? Think about that, too.

Here is who tells me too much. More of the crowd is here.

The Big Business of Indian Gaming and Disappearing Indigenous Women and Children

 

This is the sixth in a multi-part series that will chronicle my journey into the world of sex-trafficking and murder in Indian Country and beyond. The first can be read here, the second, third, fourth and fifth. If you’ve already read those, scroll down until the font change. 

Headlines, hashtags, and public service announcements don’t provide a way to explore the nuances, relationships and historical responsibilities involved in the discussion and eradication of the trafficking of vulnerable Native American children and women for sexual exploitation. I hope this series does that and more.

I became consciously involved with the subject in September 2017 when I was called by Ancestors to find a young Navajo woman who had been disappeared from the reservation and was believed by a Navajo cop to be in the Phoenix Metro area. I didn’t know it at the time but finding a body dump on the same reservation in 2014 and my presence at Standing Rock in 2016 laid the groundwork for me to walk into a multinational sex-trafficking operation with connections that span 45 countries. Telling how this story unfolds requires discussion of history and the repercussion arisen out of it, trauma experienced and held by peoples and the natural world, realities of misogyny, sexuality, institutionalized racism, the reemergence of what I call ‘the medicine way’ and where all those things converge in our current era. There will be no naming and shaming here but there will be solutions offered as the series progresses. 

Recent headlines about sex trafficking operations being interrupted in Florida during a sting in which Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was arrested for soliciting prostitution and the prosecution’s protection of Jeffery Epstein also in Florida have momentarily brought sex trafficking into the national consciousness. 

Like the #metoo movement, the celebrity names attached to these arrests and outcry inspire brief discussion but there appears to be as little interest in publishing information describing the how the trafficking operation came to be and why it persists, as there is to prosecute the right people. The language remains ‘celebrity busted’ and whatever salacious details that will sell advertising. We, the readers, want the comfortable short-read and then to move on.  “Seventeen Slaves Freed” isn’t the headline that will engage us. It’s so far removed from our collective consciousness that to bring it under the microscope even in a sanitized ‘newsworthy’ manner is more cringe-worthy than sellable. It evokes collective memories and  histories of, at least here in the US, the African slave trade that have yet to be healed. 

On February 26, the 1A.org shared as the lead-in to their discussion about the Kraft-sting, from the New York Times,

that law enforcement “estimated the trafficking ring to be a $20 million international operation” in which “men paid between $100 and $200 for sex.”

We don’t know how many ‘massage parlors’ or other brothels were involved in this sting but according to the NYT article mentioned above, the investigation spanned four counties in Florida and included connections to New York along with the mention that the women involved were from China. However, I’m going to use the two states and $20 million figure to paint a picture.  

Here, I’m also trying to keep in mind the psychologies of ‘too much’–too much information, too many victims, too much distance and too far removed to care–and psychic numbing. Psychic numbing is the phenomenon defined by Paul Slovic where, “as the number of victims in a tragedy increases, our empathy, our willingness to help, reliably decreases. This happens even when the number of victims increases from one to two….It means that there is no constant value for a human life, that the value of a single life diminishes against the backdrop of a larger tragedy.”

In this case, though, the painted picture is a large tapestry and cannot be contained in a single, small frame. So where I’ll start with my own experience of psychic numbing, $20 million dollars and two states in the US to create a comparison and attempt to work from there. 

In September 2017, I went from Montana to Phoenix, Arizona thinking I was going to find and perhaps rescue one missing Navajo woman. Within a week, that number increased to at least six people–four young adults and two children–and by the end of the fourth month, that single digit had increased into the four digits.  What I’d been brought into wasn’t just a case of one missing woman but multiple hundreds held in captivity to be sold for sex.  

Within days of arriving in Phoenix, using what information there was available to me (and to law enforcement, by the way), I found a pattern in reported missing persons  cases from Arizona and New Mexico. I was certain at least four of the young women who’d been recently disappeared were being held together and, though taken at different times, were set up by the same people. It made no sense to me why law enforcement would ignore my attempts at information sharing and wouldn’t engage with me. At the time, the only reasonable explanation was that of institutionalized racism. I told myself more than once, “They just don’t give too fucks about brown skinned kids.”

That changed the moment I was led to the Talking Stick Resort where I stayed for days, watching. Watching tribal police have congenial conversations with pimps, watching security facilitate sexual rendezvous between prostitutes and buyers, and watching those I’d identified as federal agents watch all of this. I was certain I’d find Ariel there and created a rescue plan that I was ready to put into motion the moment she agreed to leave with me. I practiced, I drilled, I rehearsed, I parked my car strategically, I was ready. 

What I wasn’t ready for was the understanding that what I was witnessing was not isolated, but systemic. When I was first interviewed by the FBI weeks prior to the Talking Stick experience, I was clear in my understanding that this network had been in operation for decades, was run by men and women, centered in the Phoenix area, and involved agreements formalized at Standing Rock that expanded it’s previous reach. What I subsequently learned, in part through the Talking Stick experience, was that my understanding was only the tip of the iceberg and that my involvement began long, long before September 6, 2017. 

This network has indeed been around for decades. When and where it began exactly I can’t say. However, it’s current iteration is a formal partnership between what appears to be the Sinaloa cartel and the National Indian Gaming Association In the United States alone there are 136 class III casinos that are directly involved or indirectly complicit in the prostituting of Indigenous and other women who have been disappeared elsewhere for that specific purpose.  In Canada, First Nations-associated casinos in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have also been identified.  Other non-native casinos in both countries, managed by a few specific companies, are also participants.  

Let’s come back to the idea of a $20 million sex trafficking operating in two states out of small massage parlors.  We’re going to do some quick extrapolating here with the understanding that math was never my strong suit and we don’t know all the facts.  These 136 casinos are sprinkled across the country so I’ll pick one state, Washington, to work with here. For shits and grins, let’s cut the $20 million in half to $10 because I’m only using one state as an example, not two. There are about thirty Indian casinos in Washington State that have been identified as having direct ties to sexual slavery. Thirty casinos x $10 million. With me so far?  There are other possible factors to consider like the size of 30 casinos, potential number of johns, and their number of bedrooms and ‘client’ turnover compared to the space of a massage parlor but I’m not considering those at this point. Thirty casinos times $10 million dollars = $300,000,000.  Now, this is just supposition based on an idea grounded in little facts. We have no way of knowing how much money is generated through the prostitution of slaves in any one casino or those spanning a state, never mind those spanning over 25 states.  The point here is that there is big money, massive amounts of money wrapped up in the infrastructure of organized crime, and entirely legal gambling.  

The larger point is this:  First Nations and Native American women have been intentionally disappeared for decades from across the continent. Some of their stories are slowly being told and heard. However, those consigned to sexual slavery have largely been missed and the current cries for ‘more awareness’ ignore the open secret in Native communities and the ‘in sight but out of mind’ slavery of indigenous women in indigenous-based gambling establishments. 

This past summer I had a conversation with the CEO of a  management company. His company is based in the US but manages a First Nation’s casino in Manitoba. When I told him this particular casino had been identified as participating in the sexual trafficking of Indigenous women, his immediate response was, “That’s not our ethos.  If you have proof, then….”

No one is going to put in their mission or vision statement or description of entertainment options a reference to the collusion with organized crime or participation in the sexual slavery of kidnapped or trapped women.

However, the proof is on every security camera in each of these casinos. It’s in the stories and institutional knowledge of maintenance, security, and housekeeping and wait staff, croupiers, bartenders, customers and, in the US, federal law enforcement.  So why has it not been addressed? Why hasn’t there been an intervention? Is it because ‘there’s no constant value to human life’? Is it because the problem is too expansive for siloed, compartmentalized law enforcement organizations to competently or efficiently intercede? Is it because it’s ‘just prostitution‘ or ‘they’re just whores‘, ”they’re just Indians’ or ‘they aren’t terrorists‘ or because they have brown skin? Is it because those in the larger non-Native community don’t have enough awareness? If they did, would they become allies? Is it because the reckoning that comes with the acknowledgment of the whole truth is more than most can bear? 

I believe that it is a combination of all of those things and with that understanding a new conversation can emerge. 

 

The Ties that Bind Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

artist: Nicholas Galanin

What is it that can bring together a diverse crowd that includes:

  • judges from the Navajo bench and the New Mexico Court of Appeals;
  • state senators from Arizona, Colorado, North Dakota, North Carolina and Ohio
  • provincial representatives in Winnipeg and Toronto
  • lawyers from Arizona, West Virginia, Kansas, Wisconsin and South Dakota
  • a Museum of the American Indian Board of Trustees member
  • a nationally recognized Navajo author and educator
  • 37 elected Native American and First Nations officials, including governors and chiefs
  • journalists
  • CEOs & upper management of international oil, entertainment, and manufacturing companies
  • heroin wholesalers
  • an English jeweler
  • a few Ambassadors
  • rock musicians, a boxer and a flautist
  • some nuns
  • some teachers
  • AIM members across the country
  • police sprinkled from small towns like Odessa, TX and big cities across the continent
  • a favorite fashion model of Georgio Armani
  • a custom machining shop in Illinois
  • a sand and gravel company in Montana

What do military bases in the US and mass graves in the US have in common?

What has scared regional chiefs, environmental activists, educators and allies into silence?

What would bring a young car wash attendant from Northern New Mexico and a Proud Christian in Montana together to cause a third woman’s death before she could be tamed and turned out?

What would lead an FBI agent associated with the Southern Arizona Anti-Trafficking Unified Response Network to tell someone in organized crime, “this lady knows too much”?

What inspires people to intentionally breed children to be sold into sexual slavery?

What has brought together Ancestors from over 400 First Nations and 400 Native American tribes–going as far back as those who inspired their creation stories–and one woman?