Indian Country Today
Connie Walker’s new true-crime podcast, in collaboration with Gimlet and Spotify, recently premiered on March 1.
The new series is an eight-part investigative podcast titled “Stolen: The Search for Jermain” which focuses on the story of the missing Indigenous woman Jermain Charlo, a citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana, who went missing in Montana.
The description of the series, which has been released since Walker’s first highly-praised podcast series “Missing and Murdered” is as follows:
“Stolen: The Search for Jermain” focuses on the case of a missing Indigenous woman, Jermain Charlo, in Montana, who was out one evening at a bar in Missoula and never made it home. Over the course of eight episodes, Walker is on the ground in real-time tracking down leads through the dense mountains of the Flathead Reservation, all while examining what it means to be an Indigenous woman in America, as Jermain was.”
When Walker, Cree from Okanese First Nation in Canada, was a CBC reporter for 20 years, she noticed the limited interest in stories about Indigenous communities. But because she was Cree from Okanese First Nation in Canada, she was interested in telling the Indigenous stories so long overlooked.
“Because I'm Cree and I grew up in my community, I became a journalist because I was interested in telling these stories. It was a really frustrating experience for me, [that] for many, many years there was this feeling that our stories weren't important or Canadians didn't care about them,” she said. “But when that started to shift, we started to get more opportunities to tell stories. And one of the big things that we started looking into was this issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls.”
Walker says that in the course of her journalistic career, she has assessed that the issue of violence against Indigenous people, and even more specifically Indigenous women is due to the historically embedded systemic racism and cultural genocide.
“This history of attempted genocide of Indigenous peoples across North America, this history of colonization and this legacy of being dispossessed from our lands and moved onto reserves in Canada or reservations in the United States, and the institutional racism or assimilationist policies that took our children away and put them in residential schools and then the harm and the abuse that they experienced as children there? The cultural genocide that occurred because of the breakdown of families that occurred ... it can't be disconnected from that bigger history … the crisis of violence that we face is, is connected back to that history… All of these things I think are, are connected back to that,” Walker said.
After hearing and exploring the story of Charlo, Walker decided to explore the story to connect to the family, the friends and to learn about life in Charlo’s community. Walker said meeting with Charlo’s grandmother, and other family members and friends brought the story to life.
“The trauma that her family has been through in the last two and a half years is devastating,” shared Walker.
As much as Walker says she wants to share the story of Charlo's life, she also hopes for answers for her family.
“I hope it leads to some answers and leads to some resolution and leads to somebody out there hearing this story and coming forward with something that they know, and that this leads to something positive for her family because really it's the most difficult for them. This is their real life.”
The podcast can now be accessed on Spotify here.
About “Stolen: The Search for Jermain”
In 2018, a young Indigenous mother named Jermain Charlo left a bar in Missoula, Montana, and was never seen again. After two years and thousands of hours of investigative work, police believe they are close to solving the mystery of what happened to her. We go inside the investigation, tracking down leads and joining search parties through the dense mountains of the Flathead Reservation. As we unravel this mystery, the show examines what it means to be an Indigenous woman in America.
About Connie Walker
Connie Walker has been a journalist focused on the plight of women and Indigenous people for several years. She started her career at CBC in Canada, where she was an award-winning investigative reporter. In 2016, Walker created “Missing & Murdered,” a CBC podcast that captivated listeners around the world and was downloaded more than 30 million times. “Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo” was featured in The New York Times, The Rolling Stone, The Columbia Journalism Review and won the inaugural Best Serialized Story award at the Third Coast International Audio Festival in 2018. Walker is Cree from Okanese First Nation in Canada.
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