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Understanding Indigenous Culture in ND Series: MMIW

Last week, The National Partners Work Group on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the MMIW Family Advisors organized a National Week of Action (May 1-7, 2023) as a call to action in honor of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Violence against Indigenous women is both a historical and current reality amongst Native communities. The National Crime Information Center reports that in 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native girls and women. However, the US Department of Justice’s federal missing person database, NamUs, only logged 116 cases. This lack of attention for decades, by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies has led to the MMIW Movement.

A red hand over the mouth has become the symbol of the MMIW movement. It stands for all the missing sisters whose voices are not heard. It stands for the silence of the media and law enforcement amid this crisis. It stands for the oppression and subjugation of Native women who are now rising up to say #NoMoreStolenSisters.

In addition, wearing red on May 5th is a way to honor the lives of the thousands of Indigenous women and girls who have been lost to violence and exploitation, and to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis facing Indigenous communities. It is also a way to show support for the families and loved ones who have been impacted by this issue. Every person should be valued and protected.

In Canada, May 5th is also known as Red Dress Day which was inspired by the work of Métis artist Jaime Black, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. In 2011, Black created an installation at the University of Winnipeg’s campus titled REDress Project, that was made up of hanging hundreds of empty red dresses in public places red garments to represent and commemorate the Indigenous women and girls lost to violence. “We say the spirits that have passed see bright colors the best, red in particular. So, hanging the red dresses helps lost spirits find their way home to their loved ones.”

Please see the CREA Culture team’s post from last year on MMIW for more information.

Red Basket, Dr. Kathy Froelich, an MHA elder and CREA Indigenous Culture Coordinator suggests this classroom activity to educators: “We are more alike than we are different.”

This lesson is intended to provide background for teaching staff to understand the way historical trauma and federal policies have and continue to impact current issues American Indians face.

Did you know that there is a statue that was constructed in Custer Park in Bismarck, ND? What does it represent and why is it important to bring awareness to this movement?

Traveling statue unveiled at Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women’s day event

Goal – During professional development and in response to SB 2304 teachers will identify current issues that face Indigenous people in North Dakota.

Objective – Teachers will watch below Youtube video to understand that historically federal government policies have contributed to the issue of violence against Native Women.

· Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women |

· 2023 National Week of Action for MMIW |

· A Proclamation on Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day |

· Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) |

· Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP) Awareness Month |

· How Red Dresses Became a Symbol for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women |

· The powerful image of a red handprint |

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