Photo depicting a row of Indigenous women dressed in traditional wear with red hands painted over their mouths.

NEWS GLEAMS | National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women/Persons, #GiveBig to the Emerald

A roundup of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷

✨Gleaming This Week✨

National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women/Persons

From May 1 to May 7, 2023, marks the National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), with a number of activities organized virtually by organizations such as the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), National Partners Work Group on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and the MMIW Family Advisors, in order to “call the nation and the world to action in honor of [MMIW].”

NIWRC writes, “The crisis of MMIW is not the result of single, separate acts but is a continuum of violence condoned by the same government that has failed to protect its most vulnerable population; it is the result of policies permitting forced removal, land seizures, and violence inflicted on Native peoples.”

MMIW is also commonly known as MMIWG, MMIP or MMIW/P, with the “G” representing “girls,” and the “P” representing “peoples,” to be inclusive of those who are affected by such violence that may not be women, girls, or identify as part of the gender binary.

The National Week of Action expands upon a resolution originally passed by the United States Senate in May 2017, which recognized May 5 as the “National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls,” following the public outcry and grassroots demands for justice following the disappearance and murder of Hanna Harris of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in 2013. The resolution cites a study commissioned by the Department of Justice, noting that, “in some tribal communities, American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average murder rate,” and that, “according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide was the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women between 10 and 24 years of age and the fifth leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native women between 25 and 34 years of age.”

Harris’ story, in particular, is highlighted in-depth via a three-part Showtime documentary series, Murder in Little Big Horn — but it is only one of many national cases. Washington state — and in particular, the Seattle and Tacoma areas — rank among the highest in the nation for MMIW/P. A 2018 study by Urban Indian Health institute — a division of the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) — identifies a lack of reliable data or difficulties with data collection around MMIW/P. Despite 5,712 cases being reported in 2016, only 116 were logged into the Department of Justice database.

After reviewing 506 MMIW/P cases across 71 selected urban cities, the report found 128 cases of missing women, 280 cases of murdered women, 98 cases with “unknown status,” and a median age of 29 for victims.The three states with the highest number of cases were New Mexico (78), Washington (71), and Arizona (54), with Seattle as the city with the highest number of cases (45), followed by Albuquerque, New Mexico (37), and Anchorage, Alaska (31).

Relatedly, in 2022, Washington State was the first in the country to create a statewide MMW/P Alert System, similar to an Amber Alert for abducted youth. Its formation was guided in part by the Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIW/P) Task Force, which is a 21-member task force that assesses the systemic causes behind these high rates of disappearance. They produced a data-and-recommendation-heavy Interim Report in 2022 and will produce another on this topic in June 2023.

Circle chart depicting the 6-Point Action Plan for restoring the safety of Indigenous women.
The 6-Point Action Plan: Advocacy in Action: Restoring Safety of Indigenous Women. (Graphic courtesy of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.)

In Seattle, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, People & Families will be hosting their third annual gathering on Saturday, May 6. It begins at 10:00 a.m. at Westlake Park, with a march to Seattle Center at 11:00 a.m. The event will be led by community organizer Roxanne White (Nez Perce), and participants are encouraged to wear their regalia and/or the color red.

Those who are interested in virtual MMIW/P activities hosted by organizations like NWIRC during the National Week of Action can join a series of online webinars, participate in a “Twitter storm,” and tune in to a daily live stream with Pouhana O Nā Wāhine, a grassroots Native Hawaiian organization advocating for families who face challenges related to domestic violence and related violences through the restoration of Native life pathways.

Anyone who would like to short their support and solidarity are invited to use hashtags such as  #MMIW, #MMIWActionNow, and #NoMoreStolen or to use the NWIRC’s social media toolkit.

Additional studies can also be found on the Department of Justice website, though their underreporting is to be noted, and the site does not include the SIHB’s report. NWIRC also calls for systemic changes in an “Advocacy in Action: 6-Point Plan” which highlights recommendations for combating the crisis.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson Forms Exploratory Committee for Governor

Following Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement earlier this week that he will not seek a fourth term, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has formed a statewide exploratory committee to explore his potential candidacy for governor in 2024. 

Through a press release and an announcement presented by video, Ferguson included an initial list of endorsements, and goals for the exploratory phase include visits to every corner of the state, which begin with a trip to Eastern Washington. He conducted similar visits during his candidacy for attorney general and did so again after he was elected for his first term.

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📸 Featured Image: Laverne Wise, center, and her daughter Jessica Dominy, left, wear the symbol of the red hand on their faces to acknowledge missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, during a rally celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Westlake Park in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 14, 2019. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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