UNITY Youth hosts Red Dress Special honoring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Statistics show there were more than 5,700 known incidents in the U.S. of missing and murdered Indigenous women reported to the National Crime Information Center in 2016, a sad reality 25 Under 25 Awardee Jazmine Wildcat says needs more attention. “This is a subject that means a lot to me. I feel that our Native women are the backbone of our people and as life-givers, our people cease to exist if we do not protect them,” said Wildcat, a member of the Northern Arapaho Nation. Her passion on the issue led her to host a Red Dress special at Northern Arapaho Powwow in Arapaho, Wyoming.
Wildcat enlisted the help of strong Native women in her life, such as her mother Jenni Wildcat, to organize this event as part of her ongoing platform of raising awareness of contemporary issues among Native youth. “We wore red to honor and remember the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls who have left us. As girls my age and younger grow older we may be faced with becoming a statistic,” explained Wildcat. “Did you know that 4 out of 5 Native American women will experience violence in their lifetime and 56% will be a victim of sexual violence in some way? Many reservations and communities lack the resources to address this issue and as a result, Native women are murdered up to 10 times the national average in some areas. Red is the awareness color of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls so that’s why I chose to put on a Red Dress special that was open to all girls ranging from Tiny Tots to Teens because it affects all of us,” she added.
Wildcat hopes to continue spreading awareness and encourage others to share valuable resources with others. One resource is the MMIW Database. According to its website, the database logs cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people in Canada and the United States, from 1900 to the present. There are many lists and sources of information online, but no central database that is routinely updated, includes both Canada and the US, and thoroughly logs important aspects of the data, and overall, there is a chronic lack of data on this violence. The database works to address that need, by maintaining a comprehensive resource to support community members, advocates, activists, and researchers in their work towards justice for our stolen sisters.
The database has been built and maintained by Annita Lucchesi, a Southern Cheyenne doctoral student. Lucchesi is a survivor of domestic and sexual violence, and is doing her dissertation research on community projects mapping this data. For more information about Lucchesi, visit her website.
Click here for the MMIW Database