‘Who She Is’ sheds light on the lives of missing women

Story provided by Stillwater Public Library

The Stillwater Public Library and the local chapter of the League of Women Voters present a special screening and panel discussion of the documentary “Who She Is” on Sunday, May 5, at 2 p.m. The film highlights the individual stories of four women caught in the national epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW).

In 2018, the U.S. Senate designated May 5 as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls to bring attention to the high rates of homicides of American Indian and Alaska Native women. According to the Centers for Disease Control, murder is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women.

Beth Furnish, a long-time member of the Stillwater League of Women Voters, organized a screening of the film in Oklahoma City in the fall and is eager to bring the film to Stillwater.

“‘Who She Is’ is such a beautiful film because it doesn’t just focus on the terrible circumstances these women were in, but rather takes you into their lives in a real and respectful way so you can feel who they are,” Furnish said. “It’s too easy to abstractly read about stories in the paper and not have a sense of people’s lives, the holes they left in their families and communities.”

Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion led by individuals working to bring awareness to the topic and help change how Oklahoma handles these cases, including LaRenda Morgan and Special Agent Josh Patzkowski.

Morgan, who is currently the Governmental Affairs Officer for the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, worked to implement Senate Bill 172, also known as Ida’s Law, in 2021 after her cousin Ida Beard went missing in 2015. The legislation attempts to address some of the challenges Native families face when a loved one is missing or murdered.

The law requires the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) to create a database to keep up with cases and establish an official liaison. Agent Patzkowski, a member of the Cherokee nation, was appointed to be the OSBI’s missing and murdered Indigenous persons liaison in July 2023.

“Who She Is” will be shown at the Stillwater Public Library in the second-floor auditorium and is free and open to the public. Registration is requested to help library staff plan for the event. Sign up at stillwaterok.gov/Library, call (405) 372-3633 x8106 or stop by the library’s Help Desk.

The documentary focuses on the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho communities in Wyoming. It was co-directed by Jordan Dresser and Sophie Barksdale and produced by Caldera Productions. The film was made possible with funding from the Wyoming Division of Victim Services on behalf of the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force. More information about the documentary can be found at CalderaProductions.com/WhoSheIs.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday- Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.