Selena Not Afraid: Please ‘share Selena’s pictures and story’

Aliyah Chavez

Family, state and Indian Country grapple with death of 16-year-old

Selena Shelley Faye Not Afraid’s family encouraged people to wear red today in honor of the 16-year-old who was a member of the Crow Nation.

Not Afraid’s body was found Monday less than a mile from where she was last seen. She went missing on New Year’s Day in southern Montana.

“Please continue to share Selena’s pictures and story,” reads a Facebook post from Cheryl Horn, Not Afraid’s aunt. “We are not done. Me and her mom are not done. Now for justice. Please Continue to help us.”

"I love you Sal," writes Cheryl Horn, aunt of Selena Not Afraid, on her Facebook page while sharing this photo. Photo by Angie Bell. 

Not Afraid hadn’t been seen for 19 days. Officials say she was traveling from Hardin to Billings when the van she was in— which had five other people in it— encountered car trouble.

The car was allegedly pulled over at a truck stop along Interstate 90. 

News reports say Not Afraid and another woman were eventually left at the truck stop after the car began to work again … so they waited for a relative to pick them up. Not Afraid allegedly walked into a nearby field. She couldn’t be found when the relative showed up and wasn’t dressed appropriately for the winter weather. It was the last time anyone had seen Not Afraid alive.

The Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying an autopsy will be conducted in the coming days. Foul play is not suspected.

The search for Not Afraid was led by the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office. Efforts were made via helicopter, thermal drones, K-9s, all-terrain vehicles, horseback, and on foot. During this time, relatives of Not Afraid provided water and supplies to the search group. They were also assisted by a deployment team from the FBI.

“This tragedy impacts the lives of countless others and communities throughout the state,” Governor of Montana Steve Bullock said in a statement. “I thank the family members, volunteers, and local community for searching for Selena, pushing for accountability, and demanding a thorough response.”

Alvin Not Afraid Jr., Crow Nation Tribal Chairman, released a statement saying Not Afraid was his niece. He asked community members to keep their family in prayer.

“The Not Afraid Administration is currently reaching out to family and community support and grief professionals to help with the losses our Nation has suffered,” the statement says.

Indian Country took to social media to offer their condolences, share support and call for action on missing and murdered Indigenous women. 

The Billings Gazette reports that Native people make up 6.7 percent of the total population in Montana but account for 26 percent of missing persons cases.

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Shalene Joseph, A’aniiih, Athabascan, drew this graphic after learning of the death of Selena Not Afraid. Graphic courtesy of Shalene Joseph.

A candlelight vigil is being held for Not Afraid at the University of Montana on January 22. Not Afraid’s family encourages people to wear red. 

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

A picture staring back at me but the life has slipped away. Although I didn't even know you my heart is full of pain. A question of how this comes to be presses on my brain. I have no answers for this life but still I feel it's shame. Carry the sorrow and the pain of the innocent who's lost their lives. Fresh start to every day but the tears will fill my eyes. I meet with the heartache every morn and I get my fill. I lift my head, swallow my sadness, let it out with one big sigh. I Wipe my eyes and pull it together. God you know I try.....

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