The City of Winnipeg is poised to secure an injunction enabling police to remove the families and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S) from their ongoing blockade of the main entrance to the city’s Brady Road landfill (contra the city’s initial claims, the side entrance to the landfill remains open, allowing the continued dumping of waste). The blockade was erected last Thursday following Premier Heather Stefanson’s announcement that the province wouldn’t fund a search of Prairie Green landfill, where the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran—alleged to have been murdered and dumped by white supremacist serial killer Jeremy Skibicki—are presumed to be located.
Protesters blocking the Brady Road landfill south of Winnipeg say their resolve is even stronger after a man shovelled a truckload of soil and debris onto an MMIWG mural near the blockade Sunday. The blockade went up last week after the province refused to fund a search of Prairie Green landfill north of Winnipeg for the remains of two Indigenous women. The city ordered those blocking the roadway to vacate by noon Monday. "Screw it. Who cares what they have to say? Who cares what they want? I'm not going to take no for an answer anymore," said Cambria Harris, whose mother's remains are believed to be at another landfill outside the city.
Violence against Indigenous women is “escalating like never before,” the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has warned. A series of tragedies have rocked the city of Vancouver (unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh lands) in recent months, including the discovery of the body of a 14-year-old Indigenous child, Noelle O’Soup, in May. “Apathy and injustice prevail among the authorities while the intersecting crises of MMIWG2S+ [missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, and others], the colonial child welfare system, homelessness, and the opioid crisis are literally killing our people,” said Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson, UBCIC secretary-treasurer, according to a press release by the organization.
“We have been historically underrepresented. Our people have been oppressed for far too long. We have to work to address the white, colonized, patriarchal systems that this country is founded on. We have to make sure that we count at the local, state and federal levels. We cannot tolerate being underrepresented any longer. We have to show up to spaces and represent for those who do not have a voice. Times are changing and evolving. We are strong, resilient and have a foundation that we have to hold onto and carry with us. The foundation of being Native; Indigenous to this land. “Rematriation is a fairly new word. So new it’s not even in the dictionary, yet, but it is the opposite of patriarchy. Rematriation means to return the sacred to the mother; it’s a means to restore balance to the world.
Portland, Oregon - It’s been five years since the city of Portland organized its first week of events aimed at increasing awareness of the high rates at which Indigenous people are murdered or go missing in Oregon and nationwide. Despite some changes to address the problem at the local, state and federal levels since then, the problem persists, said Laura John, the city’s tribal relations director. Now the city is hosting its fifth year of events to continue raising awareness while shifting the conversation toward intervention and prevention. The events, which run May 2-6, fall in line with a nationwide missing and murdered Indigenous people (MMIP) week of awareness. Indigenous people — particularly women and girls — go missing, are murdered or are victims of violence at disproportionately high rates.
A bill proposed in Olympia would create an alert system for missing and murdered Indigenous women and people, the first of its kind in Washington and the United States. House Bill 1725 would create an alert to help identify and locate missing Indigenous women and people. Similar to “silver alerts” for missing vulnerable adults, it would broadcast information about missing Indigenous people on message signs and in highway advisory radio messages when activated, as well as through news releases to local and regional media, according to a news release from state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. It would be the first alert system specifically for missing and murdered Indigenous women and people in the country, the news release said.
As climate chaos rages forward, Indigenous communities and land defenders continue to remain on the frontlines challenging the continued expansion of major contributors to the climate crisis. According to the Front Line Defenders 2020 report, the three most targeted sectors of human rights defence were: land, environmental and Indigenous Peoples’ rights (21%), LGBTIQ+ rights (14%), and women’s rights (11%). Of the 331 human rights defenders killed in 2020, 26% were working on Indigenous Peoples's rights. In 2016, the international community was horrified when Berta Caceres, a Lenca Indigenous rights fighter, co-founder of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, and Goldman Environmental prize winner was assassinated.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) publicly on Monday released a report that says the federal response to the missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) crisis needs improvement. The Missing or Murdered Indigenous Women; New Efforts Are Underway but Opportunities Exist to Improve the Federal Response GAO report concluded the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) have missed numerous deadlines set by the Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act, and it recommended that the departments develop an action plan to ensure they’re doing all they can to combat the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
The climate change crisis and missing and murdered Indigenous epidemic are inextricably linked, with added negative impact from extractive industries. On top of that, the federal government has much work to do to uphold its trust and treaty obligations to tribal nations to help bring an end to these crises, according to a memo from NDN Collective.
As a survivor, child witness and mom of an 8-year-old daughter, the work of missing and murdered Indigenous women is extremely personal to Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “[I] don’t want her to experience the same things I’ve experienced, as well as every literally Native woman I know has experienced violence. I’m hell-bent on changing the current conditions so that she and [other] Native children will not have to experience that in their lifetime,” Flanagan told Indian Country Today. On July 1, as part of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget, a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives office was confirmed to be established. The budget is $1 million biennium and will hire four full-time staff.
On May 15, the families of missing and murdered Indigenous people and their supporters gathered in Seattle from around the North West for a day of prayer and action for “Justice for MMIP families.”
Window Rock, AZ - Honoring and remembering missing and murdered Indigenous persons on the Navajo Nation, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer signed a proclamation recognizing May 5, 2021, as "Navajo Nation Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Awareness Day.” The leaders were joined by their respective wives, First Lady Phefelia Nez, and Second Lady Dottie Lizer, at the Navajo Nation Veterans Memorial Park in Window Rock, Ariz. Also in attendance were the 24th Navajo Nation Council’s Sexual Assault Prevention Subcommittee Chair Amber Kanazbah Crotty, Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish, and the Albuquerque Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Field Office.
Madrid, Spain, U.S. Embassy — Over 75 Indigenous activists and their allies demonstrated in front of the US Embassy in Madrid, Spain to demand justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women, two-spirits and girls(MMIW). The delegation was removed from the sidewalk by Spain’s National Police and followed for blocks. The police liaison with the group was held back and forced to show his documents. In 2016, the Urban Indian Health Institute found that only 116 out of 5,712 cases of MMIWG reported in the United States were recorded in the Department of Justice’s federal missing persons database. Many of these cases have been the direct result of extractive fossil fuel industries implanting “man camps” for transient industry workers located near Native American communities.
Manistee, Michigan - A national campaign to raise awareness and build momentum for meaningful federal legislation to impact the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) tragedy arrived in the Great Lakes this past Thursday. Backed by members of the US House and Senate as diverse as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), the region’s first MMIW billboard was placed in Manistee, Michigan, territory of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. “The Native Justice Coalition (NJC) has just launched our MMIWG2S (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirits) Project. There has been a growing movement across Canada for several years and now the Global Indigenous Council has started this national MMIW billboard campaign...
Canada issued a report two weeks ago on thousands of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) calling them victims of Canadian Genocide and connecting a root cause to colonization, racism, and sexism. This report came after decades of pressure by families of the victims and validates what indigenous communities have been reporting as a major problem. We speak with Annita Lucchesi (Cheyenne), a founder of the MMIW Database, who organizes to track these cases, raise their visibility and change policy throughout the Americas. She recently started the Sovereign Bodies Institute. as a home for the database. Lucchesi discusses what it will take to protect indigenous women and girls and how everyone can play a role in this movement.