WASHINGTON, D.C. – – NOW supports the National Week of Action in honor of the thousands of Indigenous women who go missing or are murdered each year. Starting today, we join the National Partners Work Group on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the MMIW Family Advisors in declaring that “enough is enough – not one more stolen sister.”
We may never truly know the real scope of this crisis – how far back it goes, or how many women and girls we have actually lost – but we have the chance to end it. For too long, Native American communities have been underserved and overlooked, leaving Indigenous women vulnerable to domestic violence, sexual assault, and homicide. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that murder is the third-highest cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women, while a Department of Justice study found that women in some areas face murder rates more than 10 times higher than the national average.
In August 2017, Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind became one of the thousands of Indigenous women murdered that year when her body was found in North Dakota’s Red River, wrapped in plastic. The 22-year-old member of the Spirit Lake Nation was eight months pregnant when she was killed by her neighbor, who brutally cut the baby from Savanna’s womb. In response, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp proposed “Savanna’s Act,” which “requires the Department of Justice to strengthen training, coordination, data collection and other guidelines related to cases of murdered or missing Native Americans;” it was signed into law in October 2020 with bipartisan support.
While we have taken steps to combat this epidemic of violence, we still have so much work to do to stop these injustices. But thanks to the passionate advocacy of the countless families who needlessly lost their daughters, granddaughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and friends, hopefully, we have a path forward.
The week of action begins today and ends on May 5th, the birthday of Hanna Harris, a 21-year-old single mother who was murdered in 2013 at the Northern Cheyenne Reservation Inspired by the 2013 disappearance and murder of Hanna Harris at the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana.
I urge all NOW members to join me in supporting Indigenous women this week, raising awareness to this crisis. For more information about how you can get involved, please visit the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center’s website.