Addressing the Femicide: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Under the Trump Administration these past four years, the bold advances that women have made over the past decades, particularly those of our Black, Indigenous, Women of Color, Latinx, trans, and gender non-conforming relatives, have come under threat of regressing. We know the first 100 days are crucial in setting the tone and establishing priorities for any administration. This is why during this time, the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Black Women’s Blueprint will be bringing these voices to the forefront as part of a listening and discussion series, to share the issues that matter most to us – and the issues we need the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize as part of a feminist agenda. As part of this series, we’re pulling together big ideas from these sessions for NOW’s blog Say It Sister! In order to share the changes, we need to see and policies we need to fight for all-in-one place. The next step after listening is doing. 

For our final session of the 100 Days of the Feminist Agenda series, our panel discussed the ways in which the missing and murdered indigenous women’s crisis connects to natural resource extraction industries, the importance of incorporating men in this conversation, and how to uplift the voices in communities most affected by this crisis. Our insightful panel of speakers included Obeja Negra, an AFROnteriza rapper, activist, feminist, migrant, cultural promoter, supporter and defender; Jolene Holgate, Training and Education Director of Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women; Co-founder of Missing & Murdered Diné Relatives Task Force, along with our two moderators Kristen Herring, President of Austin NOW and Dr. Christina M. Castro, Co-founder of Three Sisters Collective.  

  • Natural Resource Extraction Industries: There is a direct link between land and body violence as it pertains to indigenous women and the most vulnerable indigenous populations. Natural resource extraction industries come into native communities without meaningful consultation and consent of the native people. They set up shop and put up “man camps,” creating an environment conducive for non-native transient folks to inflict the same violence without consequence against native women and the most vulnerable.   
  • Call Out to Men: The violence taking place against native women, trans people, and two-spirited folk is unacceptable. The community needs men to be at the tables where these discussions are happening. For too long, indigenous women have been carrying this work. Now it’s time to shift some of that responsibility to men. Our speakers call on men to start having these conversations and be a part of the missing and murdered solutions. Specifically, men need to introduce thoughtful discussions on how they mentor our boys to develop this healthy sense of masculinity while also being aware of what’s happening to their mothers, sisters, and even grandmothers.   
  • Family-Centered Advocacy: Creating more of a family-centered approach to the missing and murdered crisis is essential. Many times, when missing and murder cases happen, families become their own advocates, their own investigators, and fight to raise awareness themselves. Fellow Indigenous communities need to be listening to their families, advocating for each other, and protecting each other. 
  • Dismantling Systems: This crisis is a systemic issue. The system is not broken; it is working exactly as it was designed. Many of the missing and murdered issues stem from colonization and implemented genocide, femicide, forced sterilization of indigenous women, and trafficking of indigenous women in all of the Americas and Islands. The U.S. must dismantle these systems. Although some policy changes are being implemented, allies also need to uplift the voices of impacted Indigenous communities. Collectively, allies and Indigenous groups alike need to start boosting the community work, supporting the folks who are on the ground making meaningful and direct changes with families, communities, and community leaders. Finally, holding the local leadership accountable and centering these conversations will raise awareness.   
  • Allyship: To be an effective ally, we must start conversations within the groups we identify with while supporting the organizations combatting these issues. Go to their websites and get educated. Donate money (because a little bit does go a long way), or donate time, food, water, supplies, etc., so these organizations can utilize said resources and provide for families in need at the time. Finally, as an ally, placing pressure on leadership to pass meaningful legislation and appoint leaders, like Secretary Holland, can have a significant impact. There is hope that change will happen, and progress can be made to support Indigenous communities.  

You can watch a recording of the full event here

Check out future events from BWBP & NOW here.  

Victoria Hernandez, Governmental Relations Intern 

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