Dear Community Member,
We are asking you to join Sing Our Rivers Red (SORR) events, aimed at bringing awareness to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and colonial gender based violence in the United States and Canada. In February 2015, several events will strive to raise consciousness, unite ideas and demand action for Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirit and LGBTQQIA people who have been murdered or gone missing, tortured, raped, trafficked, and assaulted, who have not had the proper attention or justice.
There has been a movement in Canada raising consciousness and dialogue about the issue. Since 1980, over 1,181 Native women and girls in Canada have been reported missing or have been murdered. For over 20 years, there have been marches and events each year throughout Canada on Valentine’s Day to bring awareness to this issue such as the Women’s Memorial March. Initiatives listed on #ItStartsWithUs, including the Stolen Sisters movement, Sisters in Spirit, Families of Sisters in Spirit, #ItEndsHere, the Walking With Our Sisters exhibit, creating a community-led database and map, such as the Highway of Tears, and using media via the #MMIW (murdered and missing Indigenous hashtag) have helped bring attention to this issue. Efforts supporting awareness and unity in the U.S. include the Missing Sisters Crowd Map started by The Save Wįyąbi Project in collaboration with Anonymous’ Operation ThunderBird. This Map currently shows over 350 MMIW in the United States. Ryan Red Corn of the 1491’s comedy troupe released a picture of a Native woman with her mouth covered to symbolize the silence, or lack of dialogue, about the issue. Additionally, groups are also taking up marches on Valentine’s Day and other actions around the States.
The (Lack of) Numbers
While there isn’t a comprehensive estimate, there are many factors that contribute to the disproportionated number of Indigenous women who are missing and murdered in the United States. Indigenous women have incurred devastating levels of violence in the US. “According to the US Department of Justice, nearly half of all Native American women have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner; one in three will be raped in their lifetime; and on some reservations, women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average.” But many factors complicate the reporting and recording of these numbers, including fear, stigma, legal barriers, racism, sexism, amongst others. Additionally, there is perpetuation of Native women as sexual objects in the mainstream media.
We hope to support the efforts built in Canada in the week leading up to Feb 14th, as well as highlight the need for awareness and action to address colonial gender violence in the United States. We in no way intend or mean to draw any attention away from the events in Canada or the Women’s Memorial March and ceremony that is held on February 14th. Rather we are holding these events in solidarity with No More Silence, the Women’s Memorial March and many others who are taking action everyday in their own ways. The injustices against Indigenous women don’t stop at the border; they affect us all. It is important to hold these events in the U.S. to show our support and solidarity for Indigenous women across Turtle Island. Because we are not murdered and we are not missing, we have a responsibility to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves, because they were taken from our communities and families.
Events will take place in the Fargo/Moorhead area, which the Red River Valley runs through. The Red River runs down from Winnipeg, Canada where volunteers have led an effort to search for missing Indigenous women on its riverbed, an effort dubbed Drag the Red. The effort was started by the family of an Indigenous woman missing since 2008, after an Indigenous 15 year old girl was found there in August of 2014. Sing Our Rivers Red events recognize that each of us has a voice to not only speak out about the injustices against our sisters, but also use the strength of those voices to sing for our healing. Water is the source of life and so are women. We need to Sing Our Rivers Red to remember the missing and murdered and those who are metaphorically drowning in injustices. We are connecting our support through the land and waters across the border.
Sing Our Rivers Red (SORR) events will take place Valentine’s Day at multiple venues, to reach a wide audience and demographic:
Monday, February 9th, 2015
SORR Exhibition · 12p-1:30p · NDSU Memorial Gallery, 1401 Administration Ave., Fargo, ND 58102
Speakers who are working on these issues from around the country, and include poetry and spoken word artists Hannabah Blue and Tanaya Winder. An earring exhibit showcasing an art piece created with 1,181 single earrings to symbolize the Indigenous women who were stolen will be featured along with original art by Navajo muralist/painter Nani Chacon and free food.
SORR Concert · 5p-7p · Location TBD
This event will be a Speak Out and Concert featuring Sicangu Lakota hip hop artist Frank Waln who was recently featured in MTV Rebel Music.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Arming Sisters Event · Time TBD · Moorhead, MN
Let us know how you would like to get involved contact:
Tanaya.Winder@gmail.com or Hannabah.Blue@gmail.com
March/Arming Sisters info: PattyStonefish@gmail.com