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2018-05-10 / Front Page

MMIW Awareness Day Observed

Rosebud gathering remembers Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
BY VI WALN
LCT EDITOR


Keynote speakers and attendees at the MMIW event gathered for a group photo at the end of the day. Photo by Vi Waln. Keynote speakers and attendees at the MMIW event gathered for a group photo at the end of the day. Photo by Vi Waln. ROSEBUD RESERVATION – A diverse group of men, women and children from all over Turtle Island gathered here to observe Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Awareness Day.

The event opened with a prayer and continental breakfast. Several presenters talked about their experiences and the work they are now doing to bring awareness to the myriad of issues surrounding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

“Parents are selling their children for drugs on Rosebud,” Janet Routzen told the group. She serves as Executive Director of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, the oldest shelter in the country serving Indian women. “Our young girls are being lured off our reservation and trafficked in Rapid City or Minnesota. They call it the oldest profession and it’s not going to stop until the men in this country stand up and say they aren’t going to buy women for sex anymore.”


Phil Two Eagle, Director of Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council, was the first speaker on the men’s panel. He talked about his late sister Mona, who was missing for two weeks before being found by her family members beaten and frozen in a pasture in 1979. Her killer was never charged. Photo by Vi Waln. Phil Two Eagle, Director of Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council, was the first speaker on the men’s panel. He talked about his late sister Mona, who was missing for two weeks before being found by her family members beaten and frozen in a pasture in 1979. Her killer was never charged. Photo by Vi Waln. “I want all my children protected, everyone should be protected,” stated Deborah Parker of the National Women’s Indigenous Resource Center. She spoke about her work in advocating for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. “We face the heaviest discrimination from the people we elect to national seats.”

Parker recalled one elected official stating “it would be over his dead body that our Tribes would be able to arrest a non-Indian on an Indian reservation.”


St. Francis Indian School students created this collage of red dresses and red shirts. The dresses were made by the girls and shirts were made by the boys. Each student pinned their dress or shirt to the black canvas. SFIS Teacher Sun Rose Iron Shell brought the student artwork for display at the gathering. The students also created and sold prints to commemorate MMIW Day on the Rosebud. Photo by Vi Waln. St. Francis Indian School students created this collage of red dresses and red shirts. The dresses were made by the girls and shirts were made by the boys. Each student pinned their dress or shirt to the black canvas. SFIS Teacher Sun Rose Iron Shell brought the student artwork for display at the gathering. The students also created and sold prints to commemorate MMIW Day on the Rosebud. Photo by Vi Waln. Native American women go missing and are murdered at a much higher rate than women from other ethnic groups. For instance, the hashtag #MMIW is often used on social media sites to bring awareness to the high rate of Indigenous women who have disappeared in Indian Country. Some of those women were later found murdered, while others have never been heard from again.

In 2016, the National Crime Information Center reported the number of known incidents of missing and murdered Native American women as 5,712. This figure does not represent the total number of cases. Relatives of Indigenous women who’ve been missing for weeks, months or years are still looking for them. The instances of missing and murdered First Nations women in Canada are much higher.


Janet Routzen, Executive Director of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society reads the Executive Proclamation signed by William Kindle, RST President, declaring May 5 as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day on the Rosebud Reservation. Photo by Vi Waln. Janet Routzen, Executive Director of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society reads the Executive Proclamation signed by William Kindle, RST President, declaring May 5 as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day on the Rosebud Reservation. Photo by Vi Waln. “We tell a lot of hard stories,” continued Parker. “We have a lot of missing relatives.”

“If you are able to stand, stand for women and children,” stated Lewis Grass Rope. “People in our Nations must take off their blinders.”

“Even if there is no immediate threat, we stand on the edge of this gathering to protect the women and children here,” Manape Lamere said. “I encourage men to change their false pride into genuine medicine.”

“Thank you for bringing your wisdom and heart to our community,” Routzen said. She also read an Executive Proclamation recognizing May 5 as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness day signed by William Kindle, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

“Don’t be afraid to stand together and lock arms,” Parker stated. “Prayer is good but we have to take action too. How are we going to wake our Spirit up? Sometimes these are hard words to say but its our own loved ones who hurt us the most.”

“Even though it hurts we still have to share our truth. I refused to be a victim. You have to pick yourself up. You don’t drag yourself through the mud, especially if you have a sacred Indian name given to you. When we come together as nations, we should come together to rise up as one, that’s the medicine we carry. I can’t understand why we can’t see that medicine,” Parker told the group.

The event was sponsored by the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc., Brave Heart Society, 350.org, Native Organizer Alliance, Dakota Rural Action, NOKXL Dakota Alliance, International Treaty to Protect the Sacred against KXL and Tarsands Signatories and the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains.

An additional meeting is being planned to strategize on how to protect the local community from possible man camps that will be established if the Keystone XL pipeline is built.

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