Indigenous Women Murdered

Indigenous Women Murdered

francesca robles, contributor

In certain counties in the United States, Native American females are murdered and sexually abused at rates as high as 10 times the average, crimes disproportionately caused by people outside the Native American community. These crimes are especially likely in remote areas where migrant employees, such as oil workers, live in temporary housing units called “man camps” on and near tribal lands. Their violations collapse between jurisdictional cracks, leaving victims without redress and their families. The Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (#MMIW) campaign is finally receiving much-needed attention from law enforcement, policymakers, and the general public in response to this epidemic of abuse. Grassroots campaigns in Canada by First Nations women and families first compelled the Canadian government in December 2015 to launch a national inquiry. In the U.S., identical groups later accomplished the same And it was the social media hashtag #MMIW, launched by Sheila North Wilson, former Manitoba Grand Chief Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., that helped drive local and regional activism to a transnational level. To address the MMIW crisis, policy change to help tribal law enforcement and governments is crucial. Failure to pass pending legislation in 2020 will mark a failure to build on this recent momentum by the several MMIW task forces. Meanwhile the #MMIW hashtag and collective support remain fuelled by grassroots indigenous groups (like the Voice sisters’ MMIW-Texas), which maintain pressure on lawmakers to obtain remedies. Native American leaders also build and manage community databases, operate book clubs and youth programs, hold displays of red dress, and take action on social media, marches, and vigils. These urgent steps should be at their peak ahead of the National Awareness Day for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls on May 5, 2020.