May 5, 2020

No more stolen sisters. We need your action.

By Kamala, Natalie, and the EME Team

Amid the social distancing and although many will never know, or be able to show it, many of us today are wearing red to show our commitment to ending the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women, known by many as #MMIW.

The murder of Northern Cheyenne Hanna Harris in 2013 called attention to the disproportionate number of Native American women who are victims of murder, rape kidnapping and abuse. It took the death of Crow Roylynn Rides Horse, after having been beaten, burned, and left in a field to die in 2016, to get to get Congress to finally act to pass a resolution designating May 5 as National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

Since the deaths of Hanna and Roylynn, thousands of Native American women have perished or disappeared. The statistics are staggering. Native American women are murdered more than 10 times above the national average, according to the Department of Justice. A study of recent national crime statistics showed nearly 6,000 Native American women reported missing. Approximately 75 percent of the crimes investigated in Indian Country involve homicide, rape, violent assaults, or child abuse, according to the FBI.

From this day forward, we ask that you join Equal Means Equal in working toward a solution for the MMIW tragedy. Basic awareness is the first step, and sharing that knowledge is how we build movements.

“Slowly but surely we have gained traction in our campaign to raise awareness for the MMIW epidemic,” said Blackfeet Indian and leading Native American advocate Tom Rodgers, who sought out lawmakers in Congress to call attention to  MMIW, sponsored educational events on the subject, commissioned a logo he plastered on billboards, and was an executive producer of the new documentary that delves into the crisis, “Somebody’s Daughter.”

“Now it’s time to find the solution,” Rodgers vowed in an exclusive interview with Equal Means Equal. “We cannot afford lose this fight.”

Through our never-ending quest for enlightenment, we have learned when a woman goes missing, we must respond quickly. There is no substitute for immediate action. The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center has created this resource that outlines crucial steps: Tribal Community Response When a Woman Is Missing: A Toolkit for Action.

We believe the world’s indigenous communities are a treasure. They have endured genocide and epidemics brought by colonial interlopers and faced betrayal by governments with which they have signed treaties. The institutional racism Native Americans face every day can be seen in the sports mascots and Halloween costumes that mock their culture and history. MMIW is a symptom of the ignorance, disregard and even hatred Native Americans unjustly endure.

“Many studies show that violence against women is causally related to their structured inequality under the Constitution, which gives women unequal protection of law,” explained EME Legal Counsel Wendy Murphy. “The Equal Rights Amendment will reduce incidence rates of violence against all women, including indigenous women, because they will  for the first time ever enjoy EQUAL protection of law.”

You can read about EME’s lawsuit here.

The survival of indigenous populations parallels the fight women have had to wage to beat back the institutional oppression and stereotypes facing us. This is our fight.

As always, a thank you to all of you who continue to stay safe and help protect your loved ones, neighbors and colleagues from the scourge of COVID-19.

Stay Strong,

With love and gratitude,

Kamala, Natalie and the EME Team

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