Marselina Whiteman, 19, sleeps on her couch after an exhausting day balancing the needs of her twins, siblings and boyfriend. Since her mother's murder, she's emerged as the matriarch of the family and tried her best to be there even more for her siblings, all the while raising her kids of her own.

What's Left Behind

Lindsay Whiteman was murdered in October of 2018 on the Blackfeet Reservation, part of a crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women across the country that only recently has been gaining awareness. Lindsay left behind six kids. While the children have always been apart, raised by extended family, the murder of their mother distanced them further without a matriarch to tie the family together. This project examines how her six children have been affected and are moving on in the shadow of death.

I photographed this story for the University of Montana's Native News Honors Project 2019.

Fozzy rides horses with Marselina on her boyfriend's family ranch on the Blackfeet reservation. Fozzy, who grew up mostly with his mother's aunt, is quite close to his sister.

Marselina and her brother, Fozzy, laugh as she struggles to cut a frozen chocolate cake, after a Shepard’s pie dinner and a long day of riding on her boyfriend's family ranch.

A tire swing on a Cottonwood tree on the ranch.

Taylen Lytle, Marselina's then-boyfriend, now-husband, shoots targets with Fozzy.

Tyren "Chaca" Whiteman plays with his scooter at the skatepark in Browning. Donelle Deroche, his aunt with whom he lives, said Chaca is the only one of his siblings that didn't know his mother well and struggles with feeling disconnected from her. “He never called her mom,” said Donelle. “He called her Lindsay.”

Chaca plays video games during dinner at his aunt Donnell's house. Like many nine-year-olds, he spends much of his time playing video games. His grades plummeted and behavior worsened after his mother's death.

Chaca dances after catching a football in an imaginary touchdown area at his aunt Donelle's, backyard in Browning. Everyone in the family says that Tyren is the "spitting image" of his mom. "Everything you see about him is Lindsay," Stan Whiteman, Lindsay's uncle said.

Chaca hugs his aunt Donelle after being recognized for his 3.9 GPA at Napi Elementary School in Browning. His grades are steadily improving, said Donnelle, but his behavior can still be a challenge at times.

Chaca plays basketball at dusk on the Blackfeet reservation. It's one of his favorite hobbies.

Two-year-old Hazley Crossguns, 5-year-old Shakina Crossguns and 7-year-old Micheal Jr. Crossguns flip through the pages of an old magazine in their grandmother’s backyard. They now live with their father, who was Lindsay's partner at the time of her murder and is protective of them from the rest of the family after winning a custody battle against Marselina.

Shakina and MJ bicker in their father's backyard. Since his mother's death, MJ has had trouble in school and acted out a lot. The Crossguns children live on Meadowlark Drive, just four houses down from where their mother was killed.

Marselina became a mother just as her own died. She says her babies are one thing that's helped her through the loss of her own mother. "I kept reminding myself that I have kids. I have to keep pushing and pushing. I can't just stop."

Marselina, Taylen Lytle and Fozzy ride horses together on Lytle's 30,000 acre family ranch on the Blackfeet reservation, four miles south of the Canadian border.

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