Autopsy confirms, Selena Not Afraid died of hypothermia

Dalton Walker

Crow tribal chairman calls for investigation into her death as more test results are released

The leader of the Crow Tribe in Montana has asked the state’s attorney general to help investigate the death of Crown Nation citizen Selena Shelley Faye Not Afraid, the 16-year-old girl who went missing on New Year’s Day in southern Montana.

Not Afraid’s body was found Jan. 20 near where she was last seen after going missing near the reservation. Her body was found ¾ of a mile southwest from the rest stop off Interstate 90 between Hardin and Billings where she was last seen.

Indian Country Today previously reported the search for Not Afraid was led by the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office. Efforts were made via helicopter, thermal drones, K-9s, all-terrain vehicles, horseback, and on foot. They were also assisted by a deployment team from the FBI.

The Billings Gazette has reported on Jan. 22 that an autopsy was performed on Not Afraid on and the cause of death was hypothermia. A toxicology report hasn’t been completed and the report says it could take several weeks. The autopsy revealed no evidence of violence, according to the report.

In a statement dated Jan. 23, Crow Tribe Chairman Alvin Not Afraid Jr., Serena’s uncle, asked Montana Attorney General Tim Fox to assist in the investigation of the death of his niece.

“Selena’s death, and the unsolved cases of so many other missing and murdered Indigenous people can no longer be the result of segregated resources and divided communities,” the chairman said in a statement. “A unified approach amongst our communities is long overdue - and it may be the only way to keep our children safe. Let us work together at every level to bring closure and justice to our region. Selena and her family deserve no less.”

Big Horn County Attorney Jay Harris said his office will continue to investigate Not Afraid’s death, according to the report.

Many in Indian Country are mourning the death of Not Afraid. A #JusticeforSelena vigil took place Jan. 22 at the University of Montana and many on social media have shared a remembrance and called for action on the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis. 

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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker or email her at dwalker@indiancountrytoday.com 

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