About 200 people demonstrated in front of the federal courthouse in Detroit on Tuesday, demanding justice for the killing of an Indigenous woman in November 2020.
Nangonhs-Ba Massey, a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, was stabbed at an apartment complex in Mount Pleasant. Kaden E. Gilbert, 20, was arraigned last November in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on counts of first-degree murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and assault causing serious bodily harm.
The demonstration in front of the courthouse was planned to take place on the day Gilbert was scheduled to appear but the case was delayed until August.
“This isn’t the first time that this has happened in Indian country where a young woman is went missing or murdered, and the investigation process or the justice system is never adequate,” says Melissa Pamp, Massey’s mother.
Carrie Heron, a friend of Massey and her family, says Gilbert should serve federal time.
“Kaden Gilbert … is white. And because she killed a Native American on the reservation, she’s supposed to serve federal time. It’s a federal crime,” she says.
Massey was killed in November, and it’s rare to go this long without an indictment. The latest hold-up is more crime lab DNA reports, which both prosecutors and the defense have to review.
Meanwhile, a family grieves and seeks justice. Miengun Pamp is Massey’s dad.
“She was a shining star. And she was just starting to really blossom,” he says.
The U.S Department of Justice says Indigenous women are murdered at more than 10 times the national average.
“She was 21 years old. And the third leading cause of Native American women’s death is homicide. So it’s a bigger issue than that,” Pamp says.