Found Deceased WA - Rosenda Strong, 31, Wapato, Yakima Co, 2 Oct 2018

Family and friends remember Rosenda Strong — missing, found dead and at last ‘going home’

WAPATO, Yakima County — In the nearly three years since Rosenda Sophia Strong disappeared, Cissy Strong Reyes has spoken out for her younger sister at awareness events and memorial gatherings for missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Her family was finally able to come together Friday for a memorial service at funeral home in Wapato.

“My sister didn’t deserve this. But I was glad she was found and is going home,” Reyes said.
 
Sept 28

TOPPENISH — A gathering Sunday at Pioneer Park will mark four years since the family of Rosenda Sophia Strong reported her missing. It also will honor other missing and murdered Indigenous people on and beyond the Yakama Reservation.

The public event will begin at 6 p.m. at the park on South Elm Street at West Second Avenue. Strong's sister, Cissy Strong Reyes, organized it to remember her sister, a mother of four who disappeared after getting a ride to Legends Casino just a few miles from her sister’s home, where she was staying.

More at Sunday vigil will mark 4th anniversary of woman reported missing from Yakama Reservation
 

A national magazine highlights the 2018 disappearance and murder of an Indigenous woman on the Yakama Reservation in an article published online Thursday.

The People magazine article by Christine Pelisek about Rosenda Sophia Strong, who went missing in late September 2018 and was found murdered on July 4, 2019, includes photos by former Yakima Herald-Republic photo editor Amanda Ray.

With the headline “’Swept Under the Rug’: 4 Years After Indigenous Mom Was Killed, Her Family’s Still Fighting for Answers,” the article notes that Strong’s murder is one of 4,200 unsolved cases of a murdered or missing Indigenous person.
 

A national magazine highlights the 2018 disappearance and murder of an Indigenous woman on the Yakama Reservation in an article published online Thursday.

The People magazine article by Christine Pelisek about Rosenda Sophia Strong, who went missing in late September 2018 and was found murdered on July 4, 2019, includes photos by former Yakima Herald-Republic photo editor Amanda Ray.

With the headline “’Swept Under the Rug’: 4 Years After Indigenous Mom Was Killed, Her Family’s Still Fighting for Answers,” the article notes that Strong’s murder is one of 4,200 unsolved cases of a murdered or missing Indigenous person.
Here's the People magazine article referenced above.

A couple interesting parts:
"Then, on July 4, 2019, Cissy's worst fears came true. Two homeless men found Rosenda's remains inside an abandoned freezer at a dumpsite on the reservation. The FBI joined the tribal police to investigate and found bullet casings beside Rosenda's body."

On local rumors:
"Another, more disturbing rumor turned out to be devastatingly true. "People were saying, 'Look for a freezer,'" she says. "Me and [Rosenda's oldest daughter] would cruise around the back roads and canals and look for a freezer."

Sounds like more than one person knows what happened. I hope someone speaks up.
 
Cissy Strong Reyes saw hundreds of people waiting before the 2019 Women’s March on Yakima began, and she was nervous. She had been asked to speak about her sister, Rosenda Sophia Strong, who had disappeared the previous fall.

"Being Rosenda's voice was something that I knew I had to do because I didn't think anybody else was going to do it," Reyes said Wednesday. But she wasn't sure she could even talk. She was shaking.

Charlene Tillequots steadied her that January morning, Reyes recalled. "You can do this," said Tillequots, a member of the Yakama Nation Tribal Council and its Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women committee.

"I'm glad that I got on the microphone and made my sister visible," Reyes said.

Reyes talked about advocating for her sister's case as well as awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women and people during a live broadcast with War Cry Podcast. Hosts Emily Washines, Robyn Pebeahsy and Patricia Whitefoot, along with new host Nichole Pebeahsy, interviewed Reyes at Heritage University.

The hosts were wrapping up season 4 of War Cry Podcast with the public event. War Cry is an all-Indigenous female-run podcast that explores stories, issues and historical connection about missing and murdered Indigenous women, men and LGBTQ 2 Spirit community members, according to its website. The recordings are also aired on a YouTube channel.
 
Reyes has organized similar gatherings and public events ever since her sister, Rosenda Strong, disappeared in the fall 2018. Strong's remains were found in an abandoned freezer just outside Toppenish, where she lived, on July 4, 2019.

Strong, who was Umatilla and Yakama, was 31 when she disappeared and was a mother of four.

Six suspects face trial in U.S. District Court in Yakima in August in connection with Strong's death and the death of Strong's alleged killer, Jedidah Iesha Moreno. One man has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in May.

Strong and Vallo are among dozens of Indigenous women and men who have disappeared, have been murdered or have died mysteriously within and around the Yakama Reservation, or who have ties to the reservation and the Lower Yakima Valley. Most cases are unsolved.

"This epidemic has really, really gone through numerous families that I know," Reyes said.

Early on, authorities seemed more concerned about Strong's criminal history, not where she was, Reyes said. She would like to see law enforcement be more concerned and more empathetic. And families shouldn't have to use their own money to create missing person flyers and posters, among other costs related to searches.

"I think the more we talk about it, the more will get done," she said. "The pain we carry — I pray for the ones still missing. They deserve to be found. ... Don't lose hope in being the voice for your loved one."
 

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