National Indigenous Women's Resource Center
One year ago on August 14, Kaysera Stops Pretty Places celebrated her 18th birthday. She played basketball and football, ran cross country, and performed in several school theatre productions. She had dreams of becoming an actress and a performer. She had a lot to look forward to.
Ten days later, on August 24, 2019, she went missing in a suburban neighborhood of Hardin, Montana, less than a half-mile off of the Crow Reservation. Her body was found in the same neighborhood where she was last seen alive, on the morning of August 29. Law enforcement, however, did not inform the family that Kaysera’s body had been found until almost two weeks later, on September 11.
Since September 11, the family has worked diligently to collect and share evidence regarding Kaysera’s murder and the suspicious circumstances surrounding her tragic death. The family has shared significant evidence and tips with the FBI, the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office, and the Montana Department of Justice. So far, all three of these agencies have done absolutely nothing.
“We have been ignored,” said Grace Bulltail, Kaysera’s auntie. “We have written letters, requested meetings, made phone calls, provided witness statements—we have done all that we can possibly imagine to convince law enforcement to investigate the murder of my niece. On this day that should have been her 19th birthday, my family is asking for the support of our friends and allies across Indian Country, and all of the United States, to stand with us and demand justice for Kaysera.”
The family, together with Sovereign Bodies Institute, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, and attorneys at Pipestem Law, P.C., are inviting fellow survivors, tribal leaders, advocates, non-Indian allies—and anyone who agrees that the lives of Native women and girls are to be valued—to join them in a series of events starting on August 24, the day Kaysera went missing, and ending on September 11, the day that the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office finally notified the family they had found Kaysera’s body.
Every day, from August 24 to September 11, will feature an event, webinar, or letter-writing campaign designed to honor Kaysera’s memory and demand justice for her and her family from law enforcement agencies that, so far, have been complacent in their failure to investigate her murder.
“Sovereign Bodies Institute stands in solidarity with Kaysera’s family in their demand for justice,” said Annita Lucchesi, Executive Director of the Sovereign Bodies Institute. “Big Horn County and the State of Montana have a long track record of ignoring the murders of Native women and people, and they won’t change their policies and protocols unless the public demands that we do so. Now is not the time to remain silent.”
“Shame on local and federal law enforcement for doing nothing,” said the family’s attorney Mary Kathryn Nagle, Pipestem Law. “It has been a year. Evidence has been ignored. Suspects have been allowed to walk free, unquestioned. Search warrants have not been executed. This is inexcusable. It is time to let the Montana Department of Justice, FBI, and the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office know that we hold them accountable. From August 24 to September 11, we will be asking individuals to join us in writing to public officials and law enforcement. Please join us in demanding justice for Kaysera and her family.”
“The absence of accountability at state and federal law enforcement agencies has forced our families to search for and investigate the crimes when our Native women and girls are murdered or go missing,” said Elizabeth Carr, Senior Native Affairs Policy Advisor at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. “Native families should not have to do law enforcement’s job. The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center stands with Kaysera’s family in their demand for justice.”
More information about the events from August 24-September 11 is available and will be continuously updated on the #JusticeForKaysera Facebook Page.
The full schedule of events will also be posted on the following website, along with letters that individuals can send on specific days in solidarity with Kaysera’s family (letters will be posted by August 24) on the Pipestem Law website.
The current schedule of events is listed below—but please note there will be updates once links to webinars become available (and draft letters are posted). Please visit the #JusticeForKaysera Facebook page, and/or the Pipestem Law website, for updates and the most current version of the schedule.
- August 24: A vigil will held by the Family in Hardin at Mitchell Ave. & Rangeview Dr. at 6pm MST. All are welcome, but if you attend in person please wear a mask and observe social distancing.
- NIWRC will host a Twitter Storm at 3pm EST/1pm MST.
- August 25: The Family will host a webinar to provide background and updates on Kaysera’s case, featuring Grace Bulltail and Mary Kathryn Nagle at 11am MST.
- August 26: The Family will host a webinar on MMIW in Media, featuring journalists Connie Walker & Luella Brien at 11am MST.
- August 27: The Family will host a webinar on Extractive Industries & Violence against Indigenous Women, featuring Kandi Mossett White of Indigenous Environmental Network at 11am MST.
- August 28: The Family will host a webinar discussing MMIW Policy & Advocacy in Big Horn County, featuring SBI’s Annita Lucchesi, at 11am MST.
- August 29: Memorial & Closing Prayer with the Family in Hardin at Mitchell Ave. & Rangeview Dr. at 9am MST. All are welcome, but if you attend in person please wear a mask and observe social distancing.
- August 30: Advocates are invited to send a letter to Big Horn County Sheriff Laurence Big Hair. (draft letter will be posted here on August 24)
- August 31: Advocates are invited to send a letter to Terry Bullis, owner of the Bullis Mortuary. (draft letter will be posted here on August 24)
- September 1: NIWRC will host Twitter storm for #JusticeforKaysera at 3pm EST/1pm MST
- September 2: Advocates are invited to send a letter to the FBI. (draft letter will be posted here on August 24)
- September 3: Advocates are invited to send a letter to Operation Lady Justice Task Force (draft letter will be posted here on August 24)
- September 4: Advocates are invited to send a letter to Attorney General Tim Fox. (draft letter will be posted here on August 24)
- September 5: SBI hosts webinar on MMIWG issues featuring Annita Lucchesi, Grace Bulltail and other advocates and survivors.
- September 6: Advocates are invited to send a letter to Senator Tester. (draft letter will be posted here on August 24)
- September 7: Advocates are invited to send a letter to Senator Daines. (draft letter will be posted here on August 24)
- September 8: NIWRC will host a Twitter storm for #JusticeforKaysera at 3pm EST/1pm MST
- September 9: Advocates are invited to send a letter to Governor Bullock. (draft letter will be posted here on August 24)
- September 10: SBI will host a final webinar featuring the voices of Big Horn County MMIWP families and sharing their stories.
- September 11: Prayer Ceremony at 9am MST, Mitchell Ave. & Rangeview Dr. All are welcome, but if you attend in person please wear a mask and observe social distancing.
“The goal of these events are first and foremost to honor the life and memory of my niece, Kaysera,” said Grace. “She would have been 19 just three short days ago, and those responsible for ending her life must be brought to justice. On this one year anniversary of her murder, my hope and prayer is that our call for justice for Kaysera will shed a light on the injustices that our Native families face not just in Big Horn County, but all across the United States.”
More information about #JusticeForKaysera may be found at on the Pipestem Law website.
About the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center:
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Inc. (NIWRC) is a Native-led nonprofit organization dedicated to ending violence against Native women and children. NIWRC provides national leadership in ending gender-based violence in tribal communities by lifting up the collective voices of grassroots advocates and offering culturally grounded resources, technical assistance and training, and policy development to strengthen tribal sovereignty. niwrc.org
About Pipestem Law, P.C.:
Pipestem Law, P.C. is a law firm dedicated to the preservation and restoration of tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction to ensure safety for Native women and children. Pipestem Law is headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma with an office in Washington, D.C. pipestemlaw.com