By Breckan Erdman, NRCDV Program Specialist

“Since colonization, Native women have suffered multiple oppressions including gender violence, racism and class oppression. Until today, these oppressions are still relevant to the lives of Native women.”
Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement Ottawa

On May 5th, National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women sheds light on the alarming violence committed against Native women and girls. This day of awareness and remembrance was first observed nationally in 2017 in memory of Hanna Harris, a Northern Cheyenne tribal member who was murdered in 2013. Indigenous women are murdered or go missing at a disturbing rate, and nearly half (47.5%) of American Indian/Alaska Native women have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. And all too often, the perpetrators of this violence against Native women face minimal to no consequences.

NRCDV stands with Native women and girls. In recognition of this National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls, we echo our call to action with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center for International Women’s Day 2019:

IWD artwork. Native woman with a red handprint across her mouth/face in a crowd“Together, we call for prayer and healing in response to this violence, but we also demand meaningful legislative reforms that remove barriers to safety for Indian women by recognizing and strengthening the sovereign ability of all tribal nations to protect Indian women and their children.”
International Women’s Day 2019

We are calling on all those concerned for the safety of Native women to organize at the local, tribal, state, national and international levels to take action on May 5th by educating your community about the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, hosting a prayer circle or vigil, or wearing red and posting a photo on social media with the hashtag #MMIWG. Native women need action now!

You can also attend NIWRC’s webinar, Honoring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to Guide Our Advocacy for Change, on May 2nd and sign onto their Call to Action to increase safety and access to justice for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women and girls. For more ideas on how to get involved, see NIWRC’s blog post, May 5th as a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

For more information on gender-based violence against Native women and girls:

• National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
• Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center
• StrongHearts Native Helpline
• NIWRC Special Collection: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls
• VAWnet special collection: Gender Based Violence and Intersecting Challenges Impacting Native American & Alaskan Village Communities