Graduation Year

2020

Graduation Month

May

Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

Journalism

Major

Journalism

Faculty Mentor

Kaetlyn Cordingly

Faculty Mentor Department

Journalism

Keywords

MMIW, Crow Reservation, Diane Medicine Horse, Natasha Rondeau, substance abuse, missing, Billings

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities

Abstract

The 2019 Reporting Native News Honors Capstone Project reported on the ongoing epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) in Montana. I was assigned to the Crow Indian Reservation and Billings. My story is about Natasha Rondeau.

Natasha Rondeau’s mother, Diane Medicine Horse, was last seen on Sept. 28, 1981. Her 23-year-old mother handed Rondeau to the child’s father and drove away in a dusty white Buick.

Rondeau grew up in the old Rondeau family home in Crow Agency with her father, step-mother and grandfather. In the way of extended Native American families, everyone contributed. Aunties were moms and cousins were sisters.

But even there she was steeped in substance abuse. Her father and step-mother chronically used alcohol and domestic abuse was a part of their relationship, so Rondeau’s grandfather became her dad. He stopped drinking as a young man after a car hit him. He promised her he would live long enough to see her graduate from high school.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, historical trauma mixed with childhood abuse and neglect often results in the development and prevalence of substance abuse through generations. Rondeau is certain substance abuse is a contributing factor in the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Her mom disappeared, creating an echo of trauma that led to drugs and alcohol. Unwittingly following in her footsteps, Rondeau learned how easily it could have happened to her.

Like her grandfather who got sober after a car hit him, Rondeau's life changed in August 2018. A woman she had sold meth to many times showed up to a transaction with someone unexpected. The woman shot at Rondeau to scare her and the bullet hit her in the ankle. The injury wasn’t severe, but she realized that the bullet could have hit her anywhere.

“My life flashed before my eyes,” she said. “I knew if I kept on drinking and using meth it would take me away from my children — I would disappear.”

Honors College Research Project

No

GLI Capstone Project

no

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© Copyright 2020 Marnie Michelle Craig