June 18, 2022
KSUT Tribal Radio | Crystal Ashike
Walking 2,402 miles for Missing and Murdered Relatives and families
By Crystal Ashike
KSUT Tribal Radio
It is over a year since Seraphine Warren's 62-year-old aunt Ella Mae Begay went missing from Sweetwater, Ariz. Now, she's walking to Washington D.C. to raise money for Missing and Murdered Relatives and families.
On Tuesday at 2:30 a.m., Warren started on foot from her aunt's house wearing a red traditional Navajo outfit with matching walking shoes. Her reason for leaving in the earlier morning hours is because that was the time Begay went missing from her home.
Warren plans to walk 2,402 miles to Washington D.C. to bring awareness to the slow process and lack of resources for families when a loved one goes missing in the Navajo Nation.
Last year on June 15, Begay and her truck went missing in the early morning hours where she was reported missing by her daughter after an intruder entered her home without electricity and left on foot toward Begay's house.
Shortly after, Begay's truck was seen leaving her residence by her daughter, who notified the police.
A search took place for a few days, a little over a month, Begay's missing case transitioned to a homicide investigation, according to the Navajo Police Shiprock District Facebook update. A person of interest was located but released a few weeks later.
The Navajo Nation is roughly the size of West Virginia, spanning 27,000 square miles with seven police districts and 158 patrol officers, according to the Navajo Police Department Organizational Assessment 2021 report. Each police district receives less than $4 million per year.
"People ask me why don't you just drive or take a plane, it will be faster, but that's not how fast it is when you need help or resources, so walking is a way to show how long it takes," said Warren in an interview with KSUT Tribal Radio on Thursday, June 16.
Warren's first awareness walk was mid-July last year, leaving at the same time from Begay's residence to Shiprock, N.M., where she confronted law enforcement about lack of communication. After speaking with Navajo Nation President, she finished her walk at Window Rock, Ariz.
Since then, things have not changed for families missing a loved one in Navajo Nation who continue to take the financial responsibility for continuing to search.
In addition, families organize prayer walks and running events to generate awareness.
Whereas, Social media is the primary tool for families to keep their missing loved one's name alive or hope to spread the message for justice.
Since Warren started her Facebook page, Trailing Ellamae, she has gained 11,000 followers, and people reach out to her from all over the country, asking her to share their missing loved one's poster.
Not too far following and walking behind Warren was Jennifer Begay, holding a Missing and Murdered Relatives flag, who has experienced the same frustration.
"Nobody is behind us, there's someone that is missing, right now, in the same area, and the family is looking; there's just not enough support," said Begay in an interview.
Presently, there are 762 missing Native American people in the United States of those 27 males and seven females are affiliated with the Navajo Nation, according to National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).
"I got to say goodbye to my family before I left, but my aunt was stolen, it made me not want to take anything because she didn't get the chance," said Warren.
She plans to walk to the Navajo Nation capital in Window Rock, Ariz., then towards Washington D.C.
"It's probably going to take me three months to get there, but I've walked all over trying to find my aunt, and all these families need support," says Warren.
A GoFundMe page supporting Warren's Prayer Walk and Fundraising for MMIR Families walk to Washington D.C. is open to donations.Any information about Ella Mae Begay's disappearance, please contact agent Dinah Lee at 1-800-560-2065, Text BIAMMU and your tip to 847411, email at OJS_MMU@bia.gov.
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Copyright 2022 by KSUT Tribal Radio