Sacramento, California – May 5, 2023—May 5th is designated as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Day, or MMIP Day. Its purpose is to increase the visibility of the ongoing violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. The movement is generally recognized by its abbreviation MMIW, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, but as the conversation has evolved, so has the awareness of intersectionalities within Native communities and the understanding of who has fallen victim to this colonial violence. Furthermore, recent variations of awareness campaigns have included girls and Two-Spirit people in the discussion.
According to bioneers.org this day of awareness was established in 2012 (Harvey). However, this has been an epidemic plaguing Indigenous communities in the Americas since colonization stretching from Alaska to South America. According to Executive Director Deleana Otherbull of the Coalition To Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW), “84% of Native women experience violence in their lifetime with more than half of that being sexual violence and half of that being domestic violence.” The Bureau of Indian Affairs stated that homicide is “the third leading cause of death for Native women.”
The Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) conducted its own investigation where they recorded 13 MMIP cases in Sacramento. “3 remain missing and 10 were murdered” and while some of the data dates back to 1943, 80% of the cases statewide date from the year 2000 and later. California has the fifth-largest number of MMIP cases in the United States but due to many factors such as underreporting and poor case handling, it is hard to say exactly where the numbers fall nationwide. Unfortunately, many cases never make it to the Department of Justice. In 2022 the Yurok Tribe, in collaboration with Assembly Member James C. Ramos (Serrano/Cahuilla), proposed bill AB 1314, the Feather Alert, passed in August of last year. This bill introduced a statewide emergency alert system for missing Native Americans in the state of California (UIHI, Native News Online).
Tribal Court Director at Wilton Rancheria and SNAHC Board member Samantha Cypret (Mountain Maidu) has also been aiding Assembly member Ramos in the development of groundbreaking, never-before-seen, awareness campaigns for MMIP here in Sacramento. During the first week of May, we will see the State Capitol’s Dome lit red commemorating California’s Missing and Murdered Native American people, a Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday, May 3rd from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM, and an Assembly Floor Session with Prayer and Song by Assembly Member Ramos at 9:00 AM on May 4th. On the Assembly Members website, MMIP Week’s events are front and center with an included RSVP survey. Within the survey, you can identify as an impacted community member having a missing loved one and can provide the name and date your loved one went missing.
With an unreliable number of state and nationwide MMIP cases, the common hope of grassroots organizations is to get a clearer understanding of the causes of this pandemic and to bring these cases to a close. It is widely understood that the rates of violence are high due to sexist and racist stereotypes “leading perpetrators to believe they can get away with acts of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people” (Amnesty International Canada). However, there are a number of contributing factors depending on the region that fuels this complex phenomenon. A serious call to action has been gaining momentum over the years, demanding our nation’s government investigate and amend the infectious circumstances that breed this heartache in N’D’N country.
Learn about SNAHC’s Free Counseling Services here:
Find out what you can do to aid the MMIWG2S Awareness campaign at https://www.culturalsurvival.org
Download the MMIW Toolkit for Families and Communities here: