Indigenous Women Speak out on MMIWTweet
Seattle, WA – On May 7th 2018, the King County Council passed a resolution calling on greater awareness and support to the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
Council members heard from Native women who gave testimony to their experiences with violence and from family members who’ve had loved ones murdered or gone missing.
Pamela Dalton-Streasn (Tlingit) provided the following testimony.
“Good afternoon. Thank you Council Member Gossett, King County Council Members, and Executive Constantine for caring enough to bring such an important issue to the forefront. My name is Pamela Dalton-Stearns. I am Tlingit/Eagle, Wooshkeetan (Shark)Clan from Hoonah, Alaska. My traditional name is “Kaajaastee” which means Tlingit voice. It is my pleasure to lead the Native American Council here at King County. The proclamation on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women means so much to the Native American community in King County. We miss our mothers, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, and aunties and we recognize that your voices can help save lives and bring attention to this crisis. We need to work together to bring this epidemic out of the shadows because after that happens, can we then implement solutions to stop these crimes.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement, or #MMIW, spans across the U.S. and Canada, where indigenous women face disproportionate levels of violence and thousands of our sisters, daughters and mothers have gone missing, never to return. I don’t know of a family in our community who has not been affected. I want to be clear-this is a national epidemic, a national tragedy, and it has to stop. We thank you for joining us today and we ask that the County work with the State, the Federal government, and Indian tribes to bring justice and safety to our communities.
According to the CDC, indigenous women suffer the highest murder rates in our nation. Homicide is the third leading cause of death for indigenous women ages 10 to 24. According to the National Crime Information Database, there were over 5,700 known incidents of missing and murdered Indigenous women in 2016. The number of unknown, unreported, or mis-classified cases is at least double that. According to the National Institute of Justice, more than four out of five Native women have experienced violence in their lives.
Hundreds of Native American women, girls, men, elders, and community friends joined together in solidarity on Saturday to take over the streets of Toppenish on Yakama Nation lands to draw dramatic attention to the tens of thousands of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Washington, the United States and Canada and Alaska. It was a sea of Red- and a powerful reminder of how much our community cares for one another and the beauty of our collective spirit. #MMIW #MMIWG
And lastly, I’m a mother, a grandmother, sister, a professional, survivor and I’m a here today to show that there’s strength in who we are as Indigenous women. We will not be defined by tragedy. Instead we can join together to stop this epidemic and to heal as a community.
Thank you, Council Members and Executive Constantine for answering the call to action to raise the conscious of this horrific epidemic.”