Understanding Indigenous Culture in North Dakota series: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Event
The crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is the culmination of a spectrum of violence perpetrated disproportionately against Indigenous women—it reflects the intersection of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and many other crimes. These crimes occur due to a long history of government policies, programs, and laws that create conditions that leave Indigenous women more vulnerable to such crimes than other women.
For more than two decades, the establishment of a consistent, grassroots strategy of “increasing safety by strengthening sovereignty” has resulted in landmark changes to federal Indian law and increased resources to provide lifesaving services and protections for Indigenous women.
Tillie Black Bear (Sicangu), a founding mother of NIWRC, is considered the grandmother of the Native and non-Native battered women’s movement. From the late 1970s until her passage in 2014, Tillie dedicated her life to restoring the safety of Native women by strengthening the sovereignty of Indian Nations.
Within the first 100 days of the Joe Biden- Kamala Harris administration, Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American (a member of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico) to serve as a cabinet secretary, created the new Missing and Murdered Unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services. This Unit is providing leadership and direction for cross-departmental and interagency work involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.
THE MMIW Red Hand: A red hand over the mouth has become the symbol of the growing MMIW movement. It symbolizes all the missing indigenous persons whose voices are not heard, the silence of the media when indigenous people go missing, and the lack of law enforcement effort towards cases of missing and murdered indigenous people. It stands for oppression of indigenous women and girls of which, awareness is now increasing.
On May 5, 2022, the Sacred Pipe Resource Center, led by Dr. Cheryl Kary, will be unveiling and dedicating a unique metal structure created by Elk Woman (Kathy Whitman) in honor of the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2 Spirited People. Please see the Sacred Pipe Resource Center Facebook page for the latest information on this event and ATTEND!
Classroom activity from Red Basket- “We are more alike than we are different”
This information is a very difficult truth. It is highly suggested that you practice self-care any time you are reading or familiarizing yourself with missing and murdered indigenous women.
If you are able, get involved in the awareness of missing and murdered indigenous women. If able, participate in a search to find a missing indigenous person, or writing your local legislators to make sure that your local and state laws protect indigenous women and girls. In addition, compel law enforcement to pay attention to ALL missing and murdered indigenous persons at the very moment of reporting of that missing person.
Lesson for Older Students:
Goal: Students will identify characteristics of resiliency