On Thursday, May 19, Seattle City Councilmembers and organizers with the Seattle Indian Health Board urged the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to change its racial identification protocol and to collaborate with local tribal law enforcement in order to better respond to missing and murdered Indigenous person cases.
Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have celebrated storytelling as a way to connect the present to past lessons and future dreaming. Narrative sovereignty is a form of land guardianship, and Nia Tero supports this work through its storytelling initiatives, including the Seedcast podcast, as well as in this column for media partner the South Seattle Emerald.
I’m Rachel Heaton. I am a member of the Muckleshoot Tribe in Auburn, Washington. I’m also a descendant of the Duwamish peoples, the original inhabitants of Seattle, and do hold descendancy with European folks, mostly Welsh, German, and Irish. I’m a mother to three children, ages 22, 14, and 2. I work as a cultural educator for the Muckleshoot Tribe, and I’m a co-founder of Mazaska Talks.
Inspired by our learnings from Standing Rock, specifically finding out which banks funded the pipeline and learning about the coalition work done by organizers to get the City of Seattle to divest their money from Wells Fargo, co-founder Matt Remle and I formed Mazaska Talks. We use it as a way to educate people on issues related to the harming of Mother Earth and repression of Indigenous rights, then to organize action. For example, because we see the harm brought by the fossil fuel industry, we organize divestment campaigns.
The statistics surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women in the United States are staggering. Despite more than 5,700 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women being reported nationally in 2016, just 116 of those cases were logged. Murder is the third leading cause of death among Indigenous and Alaskan Native women. Rates of violence are 10 times higher on reservations than the national average.