Shé:kon sewakwé:kon, greetings community,
May 5th is the National Day of Action for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW, also referred to as Murdered and Missing Indigenous Relatives (MMIR), Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Girls and Two Spirit (MMIWG2S).
I am Rana LaPine, and today I invite you to pause and recognize the National Day of Action, and learn about the important awareness projects some of our grantee partners are leading. We recognize that there are many individuals who are often left out of these conversations, including but not limited to: Trans and Gender-Nonconforming people, Afro-Indigenous communities, Indigenous migrants, and more. We see and support all who have not come home.
Since joining Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) as the Fund Manager for our New Songs Rising Initiative (NSRI) a partnership with Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, we have been focused on deeply engaging with our grantee partners and communities through facilitated listening circles with young people and their relatives.Together, we have been exploring ways to expand opportunities Indigenous girls and to support multi-generational healing and organizing.
In recent years, the epidemic of violence against Native American and Indigenous women, girls, and gender-expansive relatives started to become well-known beyond Indian Country. Non-Natives have supported Native-led efforts to create taskforces; they have strengthened Native American and Native Hawaiian-related language and protections within the Violence Against Women Act; and they have created statewide Days of Awareness.
And yet, the harrowing cycle remains unbroken; Indigenous communities experience a lack of federal, state, and robust non-Native support in the fight against this gendered violence. Communities and families across the country and continent who have missing relatives continue to bring awareness to this underreported reality, to bring their loved ones home, and to name and honor those who have been lost.
“We believe that the national crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit Relatives is a direct consequence of ongoing colonial violence and oppression; including brutality against Mother Earth at the hands of extractive industries and man camps, and the continued institutional racism which prevents families and survivors from seeking justice. May 5th is a day we take action, heal, stand in solidarity with survivors and their families, and honor those who have not returned home.”
-Tia Oros Peters (Zuni)
CEO, Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples
Grantmakers for Girls of Color is proud to support the work done in Indian Country, including efforts by urban Native populations, to stop and prevent the continuation of violence against women, girls and gender-nonconforming relatives. For the last two years, our New Songs Rising Initiative has offered general operating support grants to resource community efforts responding to this crisis. This year, we offered 10 grants totaling over $70,000, towards grantee projects with a focus on MMIW. In the spirit of solidarity and trust, we fund work that is already being done in the community, and included projects that were referred to us by existing grantees. Additionally, our continued relationship with the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples has included support of critical work steward by their team, particularly that held within their Thriving Women programming.
Below we include details about these critical, community-led and community-centered projects, all of whom gave consent to share information. We also support a number of projects that requested their work remain private, because of the security risks associated with doing this work. In the coming months, we’ll share out exciting NSRI updates from our recent learnings, including: updates on a youth-led decision-making process for grants, more forward-facing celebration of Indigenous girls, femmes, and gender-expansive young people; descriptions of our grantee partners; and information about the strategy of the New Songs Rising Initiative.
Where appropriate*, I encourage you to say the names of those who have not come home. Attend a march, offer a spirit plate or other sacred offering, and, always, celebrate the love and power of Native and globally-Indigenous girls, women, and gender-diverse peoples.
Ó:nen ki wáh i,
* Native nations are diverse, varied communities with infinite differences in their practices. Some communities do not allow naming for those outside of their respective family. Others encourage naming as a way of guiding one’s spirit to its next destination. I encourage you to look into the appropriate course of action for the community of those you name, today and always.
G4GC is proud to support and recognize the work being done in Indian Country to shed light on and stop violence against women, girls and relatives. Below are some of these projects (this list does not include those that requested to be kept private).
Gedakina will host a screening of the film Sisters Rising in Indian Township and Sipyiak followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers for their Braiding Sweetgrass group of Native PhD students at UMASS Amherst and the University of Vermont. The coordination of MMWIGR-themed t-shirts, travel and transportation for staff to attend these events is funded by Grantmakers for Girls of Color.
Indigenous Justice will hold a MMIW/Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) prayer walk in Sacramento, CA. In addition, they will support MMIP families during a California Department of Justice event, in order to center their safety and wellbeing and offer support in sharing their survivor stories
Indigenous Vision will co-host a MMIWG2SP event at the University of Montana, including various speakers, survivors, and families of survivors. They will record a live, on-location podcast, promote their Indigenous Mapping Projects, and register attendees for self-defense kits that include mace, custom knuckles and USB from Umatilla MMA fighter Kola Shippentower’s Wisáwca project.
Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition will organize a two-week art workshop in partnership with the Missing and Murdered African American Women’s Task Force, as well as a march for Missing and Murdered Indigenosu Relatives (MMIR). In the workshop, participants will make two tipis (bringing the total at the related art installation event to ten), red dresses to symbolize MMIR, and additional symbols from the African American community. There will be food, a drum group, and community and cultural speakers.
Sacred Pipe Resource Center will host an event in recognition of the Day of Action. Leading up to this event, they will gather video testimony from Native women in the area in order to document the extent of this crisis, and will observe locations where women in the community have been exploited. They will continue to provide outreach support in order to meet needs and ensure safety, and will be providing Native women with Care Kits that include personal hygiene products and other goods.
Seven Dancers Coalition will work in partnership with tribes throughout New York State in order to create and disperse a MMIW-focused t-shirt to increase advocacy and visibility of the issue. Additional awareness materials will also be distributed.
Wiconi Wawokiya will host a walk on the May 5th Day of Action, with a series of workshops leading up to the event. Topics will include a ribbon skirt-making workshop, a culturally-appropriate sex-trafficking training for local law enforcement, and a movie screening, with a panel, discussing how sex-trafficking has impacted their community.
Xinachtli Girls: Xinachtli Comadres National Colectiva is launching their Annual MMIWGR Coalition and Week of Action Campaign in collaboration with KLBRI to have a successful, healing-centered, socially distant awareness, education, and action campaign to bring light to the issue of Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women Girls + Relatives, transnational femicides, and gender-based violence. Their campaign will display publicly their collective voices and expand on the transnational scope of the MMIWGR movement. Twenty-five member organizations will be engaged as weavers, healers, storytellers, and advocates to uplift transnational movement and solidarity actions in the United States with a platform, tools, and resources to assist in awareness-building, education, and advocacy. Healing will be central to this coalition and its impact, including the organization of healing programs and campaigns.