Equality. As one of America’s founding principles, it seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? In definition, it is simple. It is the state or quality of being alike in value. It should also be simple in practice. But often we humans don’t agree on what alike or what value is. For example, there is a national news uproar going on right now about the disappearance and murder of a white woman. And there should be. But she isn’t the only missing and murdered. Where is your outrage for the missing and murdered Native Americans? Do you even know about those women and children?
Treat all men alike. Give them the same law. Give them an even chance to live and grow.Chief Joseph (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904)
Facts About Native Americans
- The United States Census defines Native Americans as people indigenous to the contiguous United States and Alaska.
- The U.S recognizes 574 tribes living within the US. Only about half are associated with Indian reservations.
- They represent 1.6-2% of the total population of the United States.
- 78% of America’s Native population lives off the reservation. 60% of those live in urban areas. n
- At least 710 Indigenous people, mostly girls, went missing in Wyoming from 2011 to 2020, 85%, were kids, while 57% were female.
- Authorities find 50% of missing indigenous people within one week. But 21% remain missing for 30 days or longer. Only 11% of white people remain missing for that long.
- Only 30% of Indigenous homicide victims made the news, compared to 51% of white victims.
Facts about Indigenous Women and Girls
According to the website, nativewomenswilderness.org:
- Indigenous Women (girls +) murdered 10x higher than all other ethnicities.
- Murder is the 3rd leading cause of death for Indigenous Women (Centers for Disease Control).
- More than 4 out of 5 Indigenous Women have experienced violence (84.3%).
- 56.1% of indigenous women experience sexual violence.
- 55.5% of indigenous women are physically abused by their intimate partners.
- Indigenous Women are 1.7 times more likely than Anglo-American women to experience violence.
- Indigenous Women are 2 times more likely to be raped than Anglo-American white women.
- Murder rate of Indigenous Women is 3 times higher than Anglo-American women.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous peoples crisis is centuries in the making and will take a focused effort and time to unravel the many threads that contribute to the alarming rates of these cases. But I believe we are at an inflection point. We have a President and a government that is prioritizing this. And we can’t turn back.Secretary Deb Haaland
The MMIW Movement
MMIW stands for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. The movement traces its roots back to Canada in 2010. That was the year Jaime Black started the REDress project to represent indigenous women and girls that were missing.
In 2012, Sheila North Wilson, coined the hashtag #MMIW.
The movement works to raise awareness of the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls.
It stands for all the missing sisters whose voices are not heard. It stands for the silence of the media and law enforcement in the midst of this crisis. It stands for the oppression and subjugation of Native women who are now rising up to say #NoMoreStolenSisters.Nativehope.org
In 2013, the U.S. reauthorized Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA). That act gave tribes jurisdiction. For the very first time, tribes could investigate and prosecute felony domestic violence offenses involving Native American offenders on reservations, as well as offenders of other races.
The Government of Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau established the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in September 2016.
Responding to pressure from MMIW advocates, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon established the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force in 2019.
In 2021, Biden Administration Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the creation of the Missing and Murdered Unit within that department.
Under Reported in the News
How many of the women in the statistics above have you heard about in the news media? Any? Where is your outrage? Feeling any yet?
Even when the news does report these crimes, the coverage is scant.
NBC News featured coverage of the missing and murdered indigenous people recently. Watch the video or read the article.
Look at how long those women were missing. Few of the reports mention they arrested the murderer. And notice how much time and space they devoted to each woman’s individual story.
No Accuracy in the Count of MMIW
There can be no accurate record of past murdered and missing indigenous women and girls in either Canada or the United States. Often the crimes aren’t reported by the families, authorities under report the crimes, or the victims are not identified as indigenous.
No More Stolen Sisters
The founders of Native Womens Wilderness and Indigenous Women Hike came together, and Native artists created this beautiful image to honor our woman and support the campaign. #MMIW is very close to our hearts, through personal experiences and love for our People. Red is the official color of the #MMIW campaign, but it goes deep and has significant value. In various tribes, red is known to be the only color spirits see. It is hoped that by wearing red, we can call back the missing spirits of our women and children so we can lay them to rest. Through our amazing artist @the_tactician and editor @warpartypictures, we chose a turquoise teardrop earring to represent our sorrow and tears. Turquoise is worn for protection by many tribes to ward off evil spirits, but it’s also a symbol of strength and prosperity. May our women and children prosper and be kept safe.nativewomenwilderness.org
Where is Your Outrage?
The statistics are staggering. They hurt me deep inside. They hurt because the numbers are only a tiny portion of the story. People are the story. Women and children taken from their families. Many of those families do not know what happened to their sisters, daughters, wives, mothers.
Though I have grieved these past six months for my husband, I cannot imagine the grief and pain the loved ones of these people must be feeling. How dare we? How dare we brush this under the carpet, ignore it? What if it was your sister, daughter, mother, aunt, wife?
Why doesn’t the news and social media report on the MMIV instead of reporting ridiculous COVID conspiracy theories and inaccurate science reports? Instead of misplaced outrage that spread disease, we might actually find some of the missing, convict the criminals who abuse and murder indigenous people. Where is your outrage for the missing and murdered indigenous women and children? Speak up for those without a voice.
We were just talking about this at breakfast. Excellent post.
Thank you, Lisa. I hope it helps raise awareness at the very least.
My husband and I were talking about the Gabby Petito case just yesterday, and how we only ever hear about missing persons who are young, white, and pretty on the national news. If they’re going to cover Gabby and Brian ad nauseum, why don’t we ever hear at least a mention of how many other missing persons there are? Then, tonight, CBS did (in about 5 seconds. But they mentioned it, at least).
Well, a mention is a tiny bit of progress I guess. Change is slower than one would wish. Thanks for reading, Jan.