Northern Cheyenne Hold Funeral For Henny Scott
Just two weeks after a U.S. Senate hearing on missing and murdered indigenous women, the body of 14-year-old Henny Scott was found on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Southeast Montana.
She was one of countless indigenous women and girls who have gone missing in cities and rural communities across the United States and Canada. Many have not been found.
Henny Scott's body was found about three weeks after her mother last spoke with her on December 7.
On Saturday, her family held a funeral on the reservation.
In the hours before the funeral, people come and go from her family's home. There’s a large white teepee set up in the front yard and a fire in front of it.
Family friend Dean Wallowing Bull says both the teepee and the fire are to honor the deceased.
“This fire will burn until we get ready to put her to rest," Wallowing Bull says. We’re alive but when the fire is allowed to burn out we’re no more, we go onto the other side, make our journey.”
On December 28, a search party discovered the body of fourteen-year-old Henny Scott outside Lame Deer.
Henny’s mother, Paula Castro-Stopps, sits in the tepee and talks about Henny, how her daughter’s happiness was infectious and how much she loved basketball.
“She was into everything," Castro-Stopps says. "There was nothing she couldn’t do. She could do it all. She started taking up beading, which I was proud of, she started learning Cheyenne. And her teacher commented on how well she was doing and how well she was saying the word, and that made me proud.”
Castro-Stopps also speaks about the difficulty of getting help from authorities when she noticed her daughter was missing. She says she had to speak with law enforcement on both the Northern Cheyenne and the Crow reservations before they stepped in.
Castro-Stopps says she wants to see that change.
"I want something done," she says. "I want a process to where it’s not gonna take this long, you don’t have to jump through hoops, that they do their job and take you seriously. Not say, ‘she’s at her friend’s house, have you looked over there, maybe she’s got a new boyfriend?’. Maybe you should find out who she is and go look over there.”
Castro-Stopps, together with Wallowing Bull and other members of of the community, are trying to change what they see as a flawed system.
Wallowing Bull asked people to wear red and black to the funeral to represent missing and murdered indigenous women, and when it comes time for the funeral, people follow his request.
They gather in the gym at Lame Deer High School, where Henny was a student, and sit on bleachers and fold-out seats.
Many of Henny’s classmates and friends attend, and some speak about their memories of her. Like Tonielle Shoulder Blade, who says Henny was like a little sister.
"She was a sweet loving girl. Her smile, you could just go into a room and she’d light it up," Shoulder Blade says And her hugs were the best, her laugh.”
At the service, the pastor announces a march will be held on Wednesday, the day Henny would have turned 15.
Wallowing Bull says they want to remember Henny. They also want to remember her death and the actions that followed.
So far, the conditions surrounding Henny Scott’s death are unknown.
Edit 01/08/19: A former version of this story incorrectly said Henny Scott's body was found by a creek. It was found outside in the Muddy Creek area.