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"It's like she just vanished": Family of missing Indigenous woman seeking new information in months-old case

New attention to missing Indigenous people
Gabby Petito case draws attention to hundreds of missing Indigenous people 05:04

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of anyone who might be responsible for the disappearance of an Indigenous woman in Washington state. Meanwhile, Mary Johnson's family is working hard to get answers nearly a year after she was last seen traveling to a friend's house.

The FBI said in its missing person flyer that Johnson, 40, was last seen walking along Firetrail Road on the Tulalip Reservation on November 25, 2020. She never made it to her destination, and she was not reported missing until December 9. 

"She's spunky. She's lovable. She's a jokester," Johnson's older sister, Nona Blouin, told CBS News. "She's just a good person to be around. She made you laugh you're sad. She gave you love and hugs when you're sad. She was nice all around, to everybody, strangers on the street."

Johnson was a member of the Tulalip Tribes, Blouin told CBS News. She and her three sisters grew up in foster care.

Mary Johnson (Davis), has been missing from Washington's Tulalip Reservation since November 25, 2020.   FBI

Gerry Davis, the youngest of Johnson's sisters, added that she would "give you the shirt off your back if you needed it." 

Blouin said she hasn't seen Johnson since their mom's funeral three years ago. 

"I wish I would've gotten in contact with her more before then, but I did give her a hug and said I love her. I gave her a charm for her charm bracelet," she said. "...It's hard. There are tough days and then there's better days. We just miss her a lot." 

Blouin said that Johnson is "the bravest of us all," and part of what makes her disappearance so painful is that, after nearly a year, nobody has come forward with information about her whereabouts. 

"It's like she just vanished," Blouin said. "You think you would be able to get some leads, but after almost a year it's just frustrating and heartbreaking." 

Johnson's sisters told CBS News they are doing all they can to get answers. They've posted flyers in their areas, and they even put up a billboard on a local interstate following her disappearance, asking people to contact the Tulalip Tribal Police with any information, according to KING-TV. Johnson's disappearance has gotten some attention online too with TikTok users raising awareness about her case.

Johnson's sisters were only made aware of her disappearance after her husband told them she had been gone longer than usual. 

Tulalip Tribal Police Chief Chris Sutter told KING-TV that the department knows of three people who saw Johnson on Firetrail Road the day she disappeared. The department's phone record searches indicate she may have been transported to Oso, Washington, which is about 30 miles northeast of the reservation. 

"But she never made it to her final destination," Sutter told KING-TV. "She was attempting to go visit some people who she knew in that area." 

Blouin told CBS News it's difficult for her to think about what her sister might be going through. She's primarily concerned that Johnson may have become a victim of human trafficking. 

"It's really hard not knowing," Blouin said through tears. "We love her so much, and we're just wishing and praying every day that we get some news. ... We're doing all this work and getting no answers." 

Mary Johnson with her nephew, Tucker.  Gerry Davis

Davis said their family is "hoping for the best, prepared for the worst." Although they have not received any real update on the case in months, Blouin and Davis said they are going to keep fighting for information and reflect on some of their favorite memories with their sister — like when she would pick pears and cherries with her nephews. 

Johnson's missing person's case, Sutter told KING-TV, is not the only one in his department. 

"You can talk to anybody who lives on a reservation and they know somebody who's gone missing," he said. "Unfortunately, too many of them are abused, exploited and murdered." 

CBS News has reached out to Tulalip Tribal Police for comment. 

There are roughly 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native missing persons included in the National Crime Information Center Database, according to the Department of the Interior. 

In April, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the creation of a new Missing and Murdered Unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office to help put the "full weight of the federal government into investigating these cases." 

"Violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades. Far too often, murders and missing persons cases in Indian country go unsolved and unaddressed, leaving families and communities devastated," she said in a press release. "The new MMU unit will provide the resources and leadership to prioritize these cases and coordinate resources to hold people accountable, keep our communities safe, and provide closure for families."  

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