Posted by on May 1, 2018 in Featured

Seattle Proclaims May 5th Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day

Seattle Proclaims May 5th Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day

Seattle, WA – On April 30th, 2018 the Seattle city council passed a proclamation proclaiming May 5th as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Awareness Day. The proclamation was sponsored by council-member Debora Juarez and crafted by several Native women.

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.

It’s very rare that I meet a Native woman or even male who hasn’t been sexually assaulted, raped, or violated. It’s tragic and deplorable that Alaska Native Women & men are the most raped victims of all the ethnicities per capita. Many of us have suffered abuse or violence starting when we were small children. Often we are left with untreated trauma, which places our women and girls in positions of vulnerability such as lack of money, unhealthy relationships, domestic violence, and struggles with addiction. These are all factors that contribute to the exploitation and disappearance of our women. Even members of my own tribe back home in Juneau have gone missing.

And lastly, I’m a mother, a grandmother, sister, HR professional, survivor of child sexual assault and I’m a recovering alcoholic and I’m here today to show you that there’s strength in who we are as Indigenous women. I’m now an elected official from the Tlingit Tribe of Alaska. We will not be defined by tragedy. Instead we can join together to stop this epidemic and to heal as a community.” ~Pamela Kaajeesta Dalton (Tlingit)

Seattle city council hearing on MMIW. Photo Matt Remle

Council-member Juarez stated, “I mourn with the families who have had to bury a loved one prematurely and have not received justice. I stand with families in hope that their missing family member will return home. In my elected capacity, I will continue to shine a light on this epidemic that has been going on for far too long, and be a champion of policies that help solve this problem,” said Juarez.

The disappearances and murders of Native American women and girls directly correlate to domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported homicide is the third leading cause of death for Native American women and girls between the ages of 10 and 24 years old. It is the fifth leading cause of death for Native women between 25 and 34 years old.

We know these national statistics are felt on a local level in Seattle. Native Americans make up 2 percent of Washington’s population of 7.4 million people. Yet of the state’s estimated 1,800 people missing, Native Americans make up 5.5 percent.

I’m thankful we have a strong network of women who have been organizing around this issue for more than a decade. Their work is pushing change, including House Bill 2951, which requires state patrol to work with tribal law enforcement, federally recognized tribes, urban Indian organizations and the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to come up with better ways to report and identify missing Native American women throughout Washington.

My hope is together, by shining a light on this injustice, we will inspire and enact real change.”

Seattle city council hearing on MMIW. Photo Matt Remle

Seattle city council hearing on MMIW. Photo Matt Remle

Last Real Indians interview with organizers of the proclamation

Seattle proclamation on MMIW

Posted by Lastrealindians on Monday, April 30, 2018

Seattle’s proclamation

by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle)

Matt Remle (Lakota) is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians  and the co-founder of Mazaska Talks. Follow at @wakiyan7