Wednesday, May 5 is the day set aside to remember the Indigenous women who are missing or have been murdered. According to data gathered by Data for Indigenous Justice, Native women end up missing and murdered in disproportionate numbers. Kelsey Ciugun Wallace, with Native People’s Action, says that this is the first baseline report on the number of murdered and missing indigenous women, and can be found here.
“There is a total of 229 murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Alaska; 149 are in missing status, and 80 of those are murdered,” said Wallace.
Those numbers were as of a few months ago, and Wallace adds that those numbers have since changed since the data was collected. Wallace said that the problem is that in the past when family members brought up concerns about missing Indigenous women and girls in their family, they were met by silence.
“It felt like anytime one of our loved ones was gone or was missing and a family was reaching out, it was completely quiet and a lot of time was invisible in the media. And so this day is really a day for remembering and bringing attention to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women," said Wallace.
This is the third year that the event has been organized, and it usually takes place at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. In response to the pandemic, this year the celebration took place virtually, with ceremonies that included a drumming circle performed in Juneau. The event was distributed in real time on May 5 via the web.
Organizers of the event come from a variety of Native organizations, including the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, Data for Indigenous Justice, Native Movement, Native Peoples Action, the Alaska Native Justice Center, and the Southcentral Foundation. Calling themselves, "The Alaska Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit Relatives," they are also working to strengthen state laws to create a more aggressive response to the violence affecting Native women in Alaska.
To find out more go to: https://www.facebook.com/nativepeoplesaction/
An earlier version of this story stated that Kelsey Ciugun Wallace expected the numbers of Missing and Murdered Women and Girls in the baseline report to grow over time. That is incorrect. Wallace said that the numbers have changed since the data was collected.