Awareness of kidnappings and murders in Indian Country — and the need for policies to stem them — has grown in recent years.

Above, Kenny Still Smoking touches the tombstone of his 7-year-old daughter, Monica, who disappeared from school in 1979 and was found frozen on a mountain, as he visits her grave on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning this past summer.

A study released by a Native American nonprofit says numerous police departments in cities nationwide are not adequately identifying or reporting cases of missing and murdered indigenous women. [Researcher discusses importance of data for missing, murdered Native women ]

Native American women have long endured far higher rates of violence than other racial groups. The past year has seen a surge in awareness of this problem, and a suite of new proposals to address it. Perhaps the best-known of these is Savanna’s Act, currently before Congress, which would require the U.S. Department of Justice to develop protocols for missing-persons cases in Indian Country, and improve tribal access to criminal databases.

Meanwhile, Montana lawmakers are debating Hanna’s Act, which would authorize the state Department of Justice to assist with these cases, and create a missing persons specialist within the department. [Fortunately, common sense and bipartisanship ultimately prevailed — and to our great joy, on Legislative Day 85, Hanna’s Act headed to the governor’s desk for signing.]

“What we’re doing, and everything that we’re doing with the legislation, it goes hand-in-hand,” Ivy MacDonald told the audience over Skype. She and her brother Ivan, members of the Blackfeet Tribe, have been pressing for passage of these bills, and portraying the issue through film.

At Tuesday’s meeting in February, which drew about 40 guests, organizers screened three clips from their upcoming documentary, “When They Were Here.”

The first featured Susan Irvine Adams, who was found dead in Arlee about six decades ago, a trauma that lingers for her family.

The second featured members of the Box Elder High School girls’ basketball team, who highlighted the issue by wearing ribbons in their sneakers. “We wanted to show sort of the resilient side of some of these young women taking it upon themselves to raise awareness,” Ivy said.

The third clip showed the search for Bonnie Three Iron, who was found dead on the Crow Reservation in April 2017. Her friends and family members voiced deep dissatisfaction with police, a common sentiment among those whose Native loved ones have gone missing.

For Ivan and Ivy MacDonald, the topic is personal.

“Like with most indigenous people and families and communities, we had our own experience,” he said over the phone. Their cousin, 7-year-old Monica Still Smoking, was found frozen on a mountain on the Blackfeet Reservation in 1979; they’re also related to Ashley HeavyRunner Loring, who vanished in 2017 and has yet to be found.

“It’s just kind of always been a topic that’s been ever present in our lives,” he said.

The documentary began about two years ago, when he was completing his master’s degree in film studies at the University of Montana. “I approached Ivy and said, ‘Hey let’s do a short film,’” he remembers.

Both of Montana’s U.S. senators have been active on the issue. Michael LaValley, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s tribal liaison, gave an update and handed out a fact sheet on the various steps the Democrat had taken. In addition to Savanna’s Act, he and Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., have co-sponsored the Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act, which set aside Crime Victims Fund money for Indian Country. Tester has also introduced a bill that would direct the Government Accountability Office to comprehensively study the handling of missing-persons cases in Indian Country.

Amid these developments, Carole Meyers of Missoula came away encouraged from Tuesday’s event. “I hope we have more meetings like this,” she said. A member of the Oneida tribe, of Blackfeet and Seneca descent, she said, “our voices need to be heard [on this issue], and they’re going to be heard.”

“To be more involved is essential,” she said, especially when it comes to discussing the issue with friends and contacting Congress. “The seeds have been planted, and so we need to sprout them.”

Source: Film screening spotlights Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women | Local | missoulian.com

IN CANADA

MMIWG inquiry set to present final report in June

CBC.ca|19 days ago
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is set to present its final report June 3 in Gatineau, Que. The report comes after 24 hearings and statement gathering events across Canada in 2017 and 2018.

Hey everyone, I’m still reading poetry and will be posting book reviews soon… This story is so important I needed to share it on Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in the US and Canada. Hunted and killed and missing today, in 2019?  Indeed. It is happening. Who wants us dead?

 

Published May 1, 2019

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — When Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming recently traveled to the University of Wyoming, he expected to sign a proclamation establishing May 5 as “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Day.” To the surprise of the media and the many who had just completed the preceding “Keepers of the Fire” MMIW march, Governor Gordon (R-WY) opened his address at the Washakie Dining Center by committing to implement one of the strongest executive orders on MMIW yet enacted in any state.

READ: Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon Commits to Strong Executive Action to Address the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Crisis – Native News Online

Women are Disappearing and Dying in Indian Country. We must Act.

The picture can be even more dire for urban Indians. Recent reports by the Urban Indian Health Institute identified 506 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women across 71 urban cities – my state of New Mexico ranked number one for the highest number of MMIW cases with 78.

Source: Women are Disappearing and Dying in Indian Country. We must Act. – Native News Online

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The four Native American members of Congress just introduced a bill to create an advisory committee on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Some states like New Mexico and Wyoming assembled task forces to address the issue. Washington State is requiring the State Patrol to establish “best practices” for investigating missing Native Americans. Will more task forces, research reports and policy guidelines help solve the ongoing problem that disproportionately harms Native women? We’ll hear about some of the latest efforts and hear from experts about what the most promising approaches are.

Published by Lara/Trace

...mosaic artist ...author ...poet... blog consultant... content curator... news junkie (My Memoir: One Small Sacrifice will be republished)

Join the Conversation

21 Comments

  1. This is shocking indeed, Lara. Like so many other important stories and issues in the world today, it is sidelined by celebrity gossip, political in-fighting, and general ranting by Trump. This needs to be on the headlines of national news, not having to be promoted on blogs and by making home-made films. Scandalous.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. thank you for speaking out
        and sharing of the warriors
        seeking justice!
        i commented earlier, and am
        wondering if the comment ended
        up in spam? thanks for checking, david 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

          1. happened to all comments I made over a couple of days.
            wp found some resolution, they say
            and again i’ve been able to successfully share a few
            words with kind bloggers like you 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I was unaware of this atrocity until I watched the movie Wind River. My heart breaks for the Indigenous women of the U.S. who have endured so much heartbreak, heartache and suffering. I like Jon Tester. I’m glad he’s up to the task. I pray that there will be continuing bipartisan support for legislation that helps to protect Indigenous women and that there will be answers for those with missing and murdered loved ones. I pray that there will be respectful cooperation and discourse with tribal leaders that will open doors, hearts and minds and, ultimately, be able to deliver justice. I offer these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ.
    Hope. Peace. And Love.
    –Pam

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought this was why we had a completely separate department of the government set aside to address all manner of native affairs…because the international stage just keeps taking away the priority of attention in this global environment… Yet this is exactly how bad things not only happen, but become entrenched forms of behavior. We need to pay attention and we need to stop sighing with relief when something bigger steals our political and law enforcement focus. We need to mentally reverse the slippery slope: what is gotten away with on native land, is a beginning of a new form of terrorism. If we can’t be honorable enough to help the peoples we made dependent upon us, then we need to do it for the sake of what this may foretell. Myself, I prefer the first reason to do something…excuses make for more history to apologize for.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Over the past decade, it’s become increasingly obvious that the “police” see their main role as protecting property rights rather than protecting us. In the UK, they’re refusing to prosecute rape cases unless women hand over the cellphones and passwords – giving police total access to the personal lives of the women and all their contacts.

    Liked by 1 person

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