Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Walk In Red Lake Raises Awareness
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Walk is meant to raise awareness for victims who are women and children in Indian Country that go missing every day due to domestic abuse, sex violence, and trafficking.
Michelle Mountain, who is a Sexual Assault Advocate and Red Lake Nation Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Task Force Representative, states, “Raise awareness for the missing and murdered Indigenous women, not only in this community but all over the U.S. and Canada, because we only make up two percent of the United States population but have the highest rates of suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence and sex trafficking. So, what I wanted to do with this event today was to just raise awareness and to show that we’re still here, were resilient, were strong, that we’re here.”
Native Indian and Alaska Native women are two times more likely than any other demographic to experience rape and sexual assault crimes in their lives.
“There’s almost no coverage for it, there’s no media, if anything we’re extremely sexualized, we are stereotyped, and that’s not who we are and that’s kind of why I wanted to do this walk was to show that, ‘hey, we’re strong, we’re here,'” stated Mountain.
In 2016, there were over five thousand cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women or girls, but only 116 were reported to the Department of Justice and more than 90% of Native victims report that their perpetrator was a non-Native.
“Everyday, Native American women go missing, and it’s not reported, you never hear of how many people go missing, even from just the Duluth area that women go missing all the time. So it’s just to bring awareness and to let our sisters know that we haven’t forgotten you,” said community member Betty Kimbell.
Advocates for the missing and murdered Indigenous women want victims to know that Giiwitaa is a program of Equay Wiigaming, which is a community cultural-based program that provides services to the victims as well as making sure they are not alone.
“Remember that we are people because for so long we were not considered human beings, and so, we’re just looked at as nothing and we are people and our women and even our men don’t need to be just missing, we need to do something to actually find these people and bring justice to their name,” stated Kimbell.
The reality of this issue is both unfortunate and devastating. That’s why the awareness walk is important because it raises awareness for the victims whose voices are silenced.