MARTIN – May 5th has be declared a national day of awareness for missing and murdered Native American women and girls on Wednesday nationwide. Events are being held across Indian country to raise awareness of the large numbers of Native women and girls who go missing and are murdered each year.
On Saturday, May 5, at 10 a.m., an awareness walk will be from Sunrise Housing to the Martin City Park. Lunch will be served, speakers and t-shirts to the first 50 participants. The walk is sponsored by Sacred Shawl Society and Wild Horse Butte Development Corporation.
“The epidemic of missing and murdered Native women and girls has tragically affected families and communities throughout Indian Country, including those in North Dakota,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs said on Thursday. “By standing together and raising awareness, we can promote solutions to prevent and combat the exploitation and violence that many Native women face.”
Hoeven’s remarks came after the Senate approved S.Res.401 on Wednesday. The measure, for the second year in a row, designates May 5 as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.
The senate resolution states according to a study commissioned by the Department of Justice, in some tribal communities, American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average murder rate and according to the most recently available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, homicide ranged from the second to seventh leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native females between one and 39 years of age; and remained a leading cause of death for most American Indian and Alaska Native females between 40 and 64 years of age.
The resolution also calls on the people of the United States and interested groups to commemorate the lives of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls whose cases are documented and undocumented in public records and the media and to demonstrate solidarity with the families of the victims in light of those tragedies.
Kim Clausen, director of the Sacred Shawl Society shelter, who offers a place of safety for women and children fleeing violence, said the event is not only to call awareness to the large numbers of Native women who go missing but also to the high rates of domestic and sexual violence in our communities.
Also on Saturday, May 5, organizations in the area towns of Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Rapid City will be hosting similar events of awareness. Last year, Pine Ridge held an event on May 5, and held a wiping of tears ceremony for 25 families who had loved ones that went missing or were murdered.
Although the awareness of missing and murdered Native women has been happening historically, it is only recently the awareness has peaked in national media. The lack of data and accountability has been issue that Congress and the Department of Justice has been being made aware of. For more information on the event call 605-685-1168.