Deb Haaland, the first Native American cabinet secretary, has said that the Gabby Petito case should be a reminder of “hundreds of Native American girls and women who are missing or murdered in the United States”.
Ms Haaland empathised with the Petito family and said that her heart goes out to them.
She however added that she also grieves for “so many Indigenous women″ whose families have endured similar heartache “for the last 500 years”.
The Gabby Petito disappearance and the subsequent categorisation of the case as homicide have generated a huge reaction online even as some critics described the media coverage as an example of “missing white woman syndrome”.
A report prepared by the state of Wyoming – where Petito’s body was found – showed that “at least 710 Native Americans were reported missing between 2011 and late 2020” in the state. It found that between 2010 and 2019, the homicide rate per 100,000 for Indigenous people was 26.8 — eight times higher than the homicide rate for white people.