By Lani Hansen, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– On May 5 many Indigenous people across the country wore red or conducted some type of memorial to participate and raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.
According to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls (MMIWG) was introduced by a resolution. This resolution was in memory of Hanna Harris (Northern Cheyenne) who was murdered in July 2013. The resolution was introduced in April 2016, the same day RoyLynn Rides Horse (Crow) passed away.
‘The National Day of Awareness, is meant to commemorate victims, survivors and their families of those who have gone through being abducted or murdered,’ Senior Native Affairs Advisor of the NIWRC, Elizabeth Carr said in an interview with Mvskoke Radio.
The NIWRC, hosted a number of events on May 5 including webinars, interviews, Twitter chat and Twitter storm. It is easier for NIWRC to get their message out through social media since it is more privilent.
‘We are really thankful for May 5 to be recognized as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,’ Carr said.
According to Carr, this year will be the second time President Trump has declared May 5 as National Day of Awareness for MMIWG.
‘Anytime we can get attention out of national level it is a positive thing,’ Carr said. ‘He has also established the Operation Lady Justice Task Force.’
The Operation Lady Justice Task Force is represented under federal agencies perspective, for the future NIWRC hopes if the task force continues that they get feedback from tribal communities to improve their focus levels.
‘There is a lack of data on the number of missing and murdered indigenous women in the country, so it’s hard to quantify in terms of the crisis on this,’ Carr said. ‘But by raising awareness we have received a lot more attention both from Congress and federal agencies.’
With the attention from Congress and federal agencies it has lead to a proposed legislation that will help tribal nations address the MMIW crisis.
‘Due to the COVID-19 that legislation has not yet happened, this COVID crisis has really impacted the movement of a lot of those bills as they move forward in Congress,’ Carr said. ‘So we continue to push forward and advocate to get those bills moving, to bring resource to tribal communities, to improve data collection and to focus on the issue from ground level instead of federal level.’
Many women are bringing awareness by dressing out in their traditional clothing and wearing a red hand print across their face. According to Carr, she said the more attention brought to the issue, the more people learn about it and realize it is an actual crisis.
‘Any awareness such as Native women taking a stand saying, ‘enough is enough’ that we are here to demand a change that this crisis be ended is a powerful imagery,’ Carr said.
For more information about MMIW through NIWRC visit, www.niwrc.org