HARDIN — Selena Not Afraid was laid to rest at the Fairview Cemetery in Hardin Sunday following a service at the Hardin High School and a funeral procession with dozens on horseback.
At least 1,500 people packed the high school gym to hear songs and listen to speakers remembering the 16-year-old -- including Channis Whiteman.
"As painful as her exit is, she will leave an impact on people for a very long time," Whiteman told the crowd.
Service speakers pointed out how the mood in the community has shifted to one of hope and unity. "We’re not sad today, the joy and the relief take away all the pain,” said Cheryl Horn, Not Afraid's aunt.
The family held a sense of closure as they laid their loved one to rest.
“I can never explain to somebody, unless they’ve been there, how it feels when you get your daughter back. When you finally get them back, it’s like so much relief that you don’t have room for the pain and anger. I don’t have that room," Horn said.
A group of Not Afraid's classmates read from a "10 things you need to know about me" assignment she had done for school during the service. The first on her list was a love for horses.
"I love horses, I love everything about them. Their eyes, the way they breathe, the way they move. I mostly enjoy riding, feeling free in the wind as I feel for feet beneath me," Not Afraid wrote in part.
Following the service, Not Afraid's casket was taken to the cemetery in a horse drawn carriage and dozens followed on horseback. Not Afraid's horse, Wart, was the first behind the casket. Wart made the trip without its rider.
People came from far and wide to pay their respects. Some even came on foot, including a group of runners from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota ran all the way to the service. Another group, called the Gas Cap Runagades, ran from Crow Agency to Hardin -- meeting the runners.
This was to raise awareness for the missing and murdered indigenous women's movement. “Not only Native, but just all the missing women and children in general. So, hopefully we can police it a bit and bring awareness and at least combat it a little bit," said Albert Gros-Ventre Sr. of Lodge Grass.
The Gas Cap Runagades were joined by others in Crow Agency and Dunmore.
What the family wants now: for missing people to be brought back home.
“Now we’ve got to help other families. We’ve got to help them look and get their hope back. It’s not a brown, black, orange issue, it’s a human issue. We all have hearts; we all have thoughts and we all know right from wrong. And we all pray. We all pray. And I found that out. And prayers are amazing," Horn said.
- RELATED: Crow chairman asks Montana AG to investigate death of Selena Not Afraid
A candlelight vigil to remember Selena Not Afraid was recently held at the University of Montana. Another vigil is being planned for Monday evening in Hamilton on the lawn of the Ravalli County Courthouse beginning at 7 p.m.