A national magazine sheds light on the 2018 disappearance and murder of an Indigenous woman on the Yakama reservation in an article published online Thursday.
Christine Pelisek’s People magazine article about Rosenda Sophia Strong, who disappeared in late September 2018 and was found murdered on July 4, 2019, includes photos of former Yakima Herald-Republic photo editor Amanda Ray.
With the title “‘Swept Under the Rug’: 4 Years After Indigenous Mom Was Killed, Her Family’s Still Fight for Answers”, the article notes that Strong’s murder is one of 4,200 unsolved cases of a person native murdered or disappeared.
Strong was a 31-year-old mother of four when she left the Toppenish home of her older sister Cissy Strong Reyes in late September 2018 for a short trip with an acquaintance to Legends Casino. A citizen of the Umatilla tribe, also of Yakama descent, Strong was staying with her sister a few miles from the casino.
Reyes has long sought justice for his sister by keeping her story in the public eye and spoke to Pelisek about going to the Yakama Nation Tribal Police to report Strong’s disappearance.
“The officer was like, ‘Rosenda Strong? Oh, she’s probably partying. She’ll show up one day,'” Reyes told the magazine. “But I was having a big panic attack. It was out of the ordinary.
Strong’s remains were found in an abandoned freezer near mile marker 64 of U.S. Highway 97. They were released to relatives in September 2021, and Reyes and their brother, Christopher Strong, held a memorial service for her at the end of this month. Rosenda Strong is buried next to their mother on the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon.
The centuries-old crisis of missing and murdered indigenous peoples has affected countless people around the world. Strong is among dozens of Indigenous women, men, girls and boys who have gone missing, been found murdered or died mysteriously in and around the 1.3 million acre Yakama Reservation. Most cases are unresolved.
The FBI has jurisdiction to investigate all serious crimes involving Native Americans on tribal lands. Anyone with information about Strong’s homicide is asked to call the FBI at 509-990-0857 regarding case number 18-010803. Tips can also be submitted at tips.fbi.gov.
Reyes “is honored that a huge entity like People magazine chose Rosenda’s story,” she said. “We are so grateful to see individuals featuring the voices of MMIWP families being recognized for this crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and people.
“Nothing about us without us – families first,” she said.