The Seeds Have Been Planted #MMIWG (More Updates)

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.

U.N. Probes Canada’s Neglect of Aboriginal Women

By Sally Armstrong, WeNews guest author [March 9, 2014]

The first CEDAW investigation in a developed country is a “big black eye for Canada,” says one activist. The findings may not produce government action, but can stir activism, says Sally Armstrong in this excerpt from the book “Uprising.”

A placard in Vancouver with faces of some of the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
A placard in Vancouver with faces of some of the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.

Credit: M-J Milloy on Flickr, under Creative Commons

(WOMENSENEWS)–Canada, the United States, Scandinavia, Europe and Australia all made significant strides in equality rights for women in the second half of the 20th century. But along the way, the rights of aboriginal women were ignored, just as aboriginal people themselves were left out of equality equations in nation-building.Uprising: A New Age Is Dawning for Every Mother's Daughter

When Amnesty International accused Canada of overlooking the possible serial killing of aboriginal women in two reports, one written in 2003 and the next in 2009, they reminded Canadians that violence against aboriginal women is a long-held and nasty secret. Their plight was the theme of George Ryga’s brilliant play, “The Ecstasy of Rita Joe,” first performed at the Vancouver Play house in 1967. Later adapted as a ballet and translated into French, the play focused on violence perpetrated against the young Rita Joe at the hands of an entitled white society. When she was killed, nobody paid attention–which rang all too true in Canada.

So in 2003, when Amnesty International released its first report, “Stolen Sisters,” no one was really surprised that it addressed the fact that too many aboriginal women were missing in western Canada and not enough attention was being paid by the Canadian government. The report opened with the story of a woman whose name had become a symbol of struggle and the miscarriage of justice for the country’s aboriginal women.

Helen Betty Osborne was a 19-year-old Cree student from northern Manitoba who dreamed of becoming a teacher. On Nov. 13, 1971, she was abducted by four white men in the town of The Pas and then sexually assaulted and brutally murdered. A provincial inquiry subsequently concluded that Canadian authorities had failed Osborne. The inquiry criticized the sloppy and racially biased police investigation that took more than 15 years to bring one of the four men to justice. Most disturbingly, the inquiry concluded that police had long been aware of white men sexually preying on indigenous women and girls in The Pas but “did not feel that the practice necessitated any particular vigilance.” The 67-page report ended with a pointed demand that the government do something about it.

Continue reading

Canada’s 600 Missing Aboriginal Women #FirstNations #NDN

Organization of American States Joins International Scrutiny of Canada’s  Missing Aboriginal Women

By David P.  Ball
OAS Sharon McIvor
(Photo: David P. Ball) Sharon McIvor, member of the Canadian Feminist  Alliance for Freedom and International Action (FAFIA), addressed the  Inter-American Human Rights Commission on March 28.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights  (IACHR) is scrutinizing the  disappearance of more than 600 aboriginal women in Canada, only months after the  United Nations announced its own investigation.

The commission—part of the Organization of American States—heard briefings  from Canadian organizations and government representatives on March 28.

“For years, we’ve been bringing to the attention of the federal government,  and the Canadian public, the high number of missing and murdered aboriginal  women in Canada,” said Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, President of the Native  Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC). “Canada was just not paying attention.

“Obviously, this is discrimination, on the basis of race, against aboriginal  women. We want something specific to stop the violence and to get the police  agencies more involved in this and make them aware. This is the tragedy we see.  It has to come to an end.”

Lavell, who addressed the commission, said that Canada’s inaction represents  a “form of genocide” and that a national public inquiry is needed.

The briefing adds to growing international scrutiny of a country that often  boasts of its human rights record. In December the U.N. Committee on the  Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) announced it would open an investigation into the missing  women if it found “reliable information indicating grave or systematic (rights)  violations.” Canada has not yet responded.

“The numbers involved are alarming and should suggest urgent actions in  response,” Dinah Shelton, an IACHR Commissioner, told Indian Country Today Media  Network. However, Shelton added that the commission’s report will only be “thematic” in nature, reporting generally on indigenous women’s situation.

The briefing is a significant step, said the complainants, because previous  investigations had censured OAS member states for rights abuses. In 2003, the  commission published a scathing report criticizing Mexico over the  disappearances and murders of 518 women in Ciudad Juarez.

“The situation in Ciudad Juarez came to the Commission as a complaint against  Mexico and ended up before the court, where a judgment was taken against the  government,” Shelton confirmed. “We do not have a similar petition concerning  Canada, and I cannot comment in case a petition should arrive.”

The briefing heard presentations by NWAC and the Canadian Feminist Alliance  for Freedom and International Action (FAFIA), followed by a response from  Justice Canada on behalf of the State.

“The Government of Canada continues to take steps to improve the response of  the law enforcement and justice systems so they can better meet the needs of  Aboriginal women and their families,” Justice Canada spokesperson Carole Saindon  told ICTMN. “The government is also working with stakeholders to develop  collaborative responses, such as improving support for police  investigations.”

NWAC documented more than 600 missing or murdered aboriginal women using  police and media reports. When asked about that figure’s accuracy, Saindon  replied that the government has “confidence in [NWAC’s] work on this issue.”

For NWAC and FAFIA, petitioning for a formal investigation is a likely next  step.

“We’re thinking about it,” said FAFIA Human Rights Committee member Sharon  McIvor. “We have to exhaust domestic remedies before you can give a  petition.

“We took Canada by surprise,” she continued. “They knew about CEDAW, but we  wanted to go to multiple forums instead of just one. Our human rights are there,  and they’re solid.”

Read more:http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/05/11/organization-of-american-states-joins-international-scrutiny-of-canadas-missing-aboriginal-women-112519 http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/05/11/organization-of-american-states-joins-international-scrutiny-of-canadas-missing-aboriginal-women-112519#ixzz1uZwaAAMq

 

Prayers are needed to end this massacre of my sisters… Lara