Today, May 5, is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Day, frequently shortened to MMIWD—a day to recognize the disproportionately high violence enacted against Indigenous women and girls. It’s a day that’s been made necessary by the fact that missing and murdered Indigneous women don’t get the attention and protection they deserve—it’s also a day for important conversations and action. Below, Indigenous members of the YTTP community share what they want everyone to know about this day—and action we can all take.
From Kara Roselle Smith:
“I think that while helpful, acronyms can sometimes diminish what we're trying to bring awareness to. Let us not forget our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Let us not forget that Instagram attempted to censor and silence our voices on the matter in May of 2021. Let us not just bring awareness on this day in May but all year round.”
From Alastair Bitsóí:
“As a Diné journalist in the state of Utah, there is a vast denial about how American society, including Pioneer society in Utah, is directly associated with the MMIW epidemic. Many Americans take for granted privileges such as access to electricity and water, and there is a strong correlation between those who do not have access and the high rates of Indigenous women, girls, men, boys and LGBTQs+ and Two Spirits going missing or being murdered. In fact, Salt Lake City is listed in the top 10 for MMIW by the Urban Indian Health Institute. As a journalist, I do my best to tell these stories and make these connections, which is very hard because the media landscape is predicated on data metrics and predominately white editors who need tons of groundwork education to understand why these stories need to be told. In Utah, the nonprofit Restoring Ancestral Winds, or RAW, does healing work through art, public hearings, organizing, and now an Indigenous Healing Garden in hopes of ending violence in our communities across the state. Our stories, told by Native journalists like myself, need to be front and center to help heal our communities.”
From Kinsale Hueston:
“StrongHearts was born from a direct collaboration with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center to fulfill needs in Native communities for a Native helpline. They also provide really important educational information, accessible through materials and reports, as well as social media, which increase visibility for youth. It’s really important to let Native folks of all ages know that they aren’t alone if they need help, and that they will have a support system made up of other Native folks if they reach out.”
[Kinsale recommends seeking additional resources here:
“We draw attention to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) on May 5 because this crisis is largely invisible, and without raising our collective awareness, no action will be taken to end these crimes and begin the healing journey. MMIR includes all our relatives: women, children, elders, Two-Spirit, men, and those with disabilities.
When Native American and Alaska Native victims of intimate partner violence and sexual violence have access to culturally-appropriate advocacy, they are less likely to end up in a situation where they were murdered. Cross-jurisdictional loopholes that allow perpetrators impunity have caused a crack in the landscape of justice for MMIR. StrongHearts understands the unique barriers to safety and justice that Native peoples face.
StrongHearts Native Helpline is a safe, anonymous, and confidential helpline for Native Americans and Alaska Natives affected by domestic, dating, and sexual violence. Advocates are available 24/7 by texting or calling 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) or via online chat at strongheartshelpline.org. Advocates can provide lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable survivors to find safety and live lives free of abuse.”
Written by Kara Roselle Smith, Alastair Bitsóí, Kinsale Hueston, and representatives from StrongHearts for Youth To The People