March 11th, 2020 Last Updated on: March 11th, 2020
Hanna, a 21-year-old woman living in Lame Deer, Montana, went out to meet friends to celebrate the Fourth of July, but never returned home that evening. Her vehicle was found with a flat tire on a dead-end road, with no clues as to where she might be. Only five days later, close to the road where her vehicle was found, her body was discovered in a field. Hanna Harris, a young mother to a new baby, will never be able to come home to join her family once again.
The statistics of missing and murdered Indigenous women (from just 2018) are staggering:
Image Source / Urban Indian Health Institute
The MTV journalist who took on Hanna’s case for True Life Crime, Dometi Pongo, expressed great interest in Native culture. He felt a connection to Indigenous groups, and claims they are similar to his own West African heritage.
“Before I did the show, and before we started looking at cases and looking at missing persons, I knew nothing. I thought, ‘Wow, I didn't know anything about this.’ It's indicative of why these shows matter so much,” Pongo said.
Dometi previously served as reporter and fill-in host for Chicago’s WGN Radio and voiceover talent for WGN-TV. The award-winning journalist also works as a speaker and multimedia consultant through his firm, Pongo Strategy Group, which helps organizations tell better stories through multimedia (Dometi.net).
Throughout Hanna’s episode on True Life Crime, Pongo not only conducts interviews with pertinent individuals from Hanna’s family and friend groups but also seeks more information by looking into the “jurisdictional issues facing Indian Country.”
“I was trying to figure out specifics of the case because I couldn't fathom how law enforcement could wait five days before searching for someone. What were these other things that were happening that would not even give them the impetus to at least feign interest in this?” he said. “That led me to figure out the jurisdictional issues that exist on reservations as it relates to state law enforcement. I was completely unaware of that culture and that disconnect.”
Another goal Pongo had while filming, was to bring to light other missing or murdered Indigenous women. He achieved this by showing the posters of missing women, including Leona Kinsey, Vanessa Ronnebaum, Selena Not Afraid, Ashley Loring Heavyrunner, Henny Scott, Melanie Marie James, Jermain Liz Charlo, and many others. He does not want the issue to stay behind closed doors and wants to bring it to light through the documentary—there are so many people out there, including himself, who were not, or are not aware of this systemic problem.
There is still hope for Hanna’s family and friends to find out what really happened to the beautiful woman, mother, daughter, sister, and friend they once knew. True Life Crime brought this story to a larger audience to get the word out and advocate for Hanna and those like her.
We all want to know…what happened to Hanna Harris?
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