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#mmiw  #mmiwg  #somebodysdaughter  #NotInvisible

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Not our Native Daughters

In July 2010 when he signed the Tribal Law and Order Act, President Obama stated, “When one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes, that is an assault on our national conscience; it is an affront to our shared humanity; it is something that we cannot allow to continue.” Tragically, it not only continues, the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women crisis has reached what Senator Jon Tester recently described as “epidemic” proportions.

One of the under-reported consequences of the Trump Shutdown was the expiration of the Violence Against Women Act, which has left women even more vulnerable. And for what? A “wall”? Not one of the US Intel Chiefs has identified a National Emergency on the Southern border – but the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls’ epidemic is a National Emergency on every tribal nation’s borders.

We can keep quoting Department of Justice statistics – that on some reservations Native women are murdered at a rate ten times the national average; that 84% of Native women have endured sexual assaults in their lifetimes; that 86% of all reported sex crimes against Native women are perpetrated by non-Natives; and that some 90% of pimps and traffickers of Native women are non-Native - but human beings are not statistics.

This is mom. Auntie. Sister. Niece. Daughter. Cousin. And sometimes, grandma.

We know the names of some of the victims, but study after study shows that MMIWG cases are underreported and have generally been poorly cataloged by law enforcement - so there are many, many names we do not - and may never know - but victims they are.MMIWG is not a right or left issue – it is a human rights issue.


In North America, the US-Canadian border continues to impede progress on the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) & Two Spirit tragedy. A lack of effective cooperation presently exists not only between law enforcement agencies, but also between tribal nations, due to the status-quo of jurisdictional paralysis. Now we have legislation at the federal and state level, we must continue the unified effort to see its passage into law.


This problem does not stop at, or differ, on each side of the US-Canadian border: it is the same problem with the same tragic impacts on our communities. The traffickers don’t stop at the border, and we cannot. Inter-jurisdictional cooperation is essential, though for tribal nations and tribal law enforcement, the question of jurisdiction itself, and the training, investment, and overhaul of tribal law enforcement structures to effectively counter the crisis, is a pressing need. That on some reservations Native women are murdered at a rate ten times the national average, and that 84% of Native women have endured assaults in their lifetimes, speaks to the urgency for change.


Be they johns who victimize trafficked indigenous women or photofit perps, the preponderance of assailants who prey on Native women have something in common - they are not Native.


In A Comprehensive Report on MMIW, Lisa J. Ellwood dismantled the assumption once promoted by Canada’s RCMP that Native women are largely victimized by Native men. Among trafficked Native women in Minnesota, approximately 78% of “clients” were white, which is consistent with findings that reveal how, among the general population of Native women, 67% of rapes suffered by Native women are committed by non-Natives, 80% of sex crimes on reservations are committed by non-Natives, and  that, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), 86% of all reported sex crimes against Native women are perpetrated by non-Natives. DOJ data also indicates that in the region of 90% of pimps and traffickers of Native women

are non-Native.


For more than a decade, the DOJ has estimated that Native women are around 2.5 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault when compared to the general population. “Under the current Violence Against Women Act, a Native victimized by a non-Native offender has no recourse for justice in tribal courts,” wrote Ellwood, which underscored the need for the legislation introduced by Senators Murkowski, Udall and Smith.


The Urban Indian Health Institute’s November 2018 MMIW report reaffirmed the extent of the MMIW tragedy, a crisis that is not unique to the US. In Canada, Native women are six times more likely to be the victims of homicide. On the other side of the world, a 2012 Australian Institute of Criminology report found that nationally, First Nation Australian women were also six times more likely to be murdered than non-indigenous women. 

In some areas of Australia, indigenous women are 80 times more likely to be victims of violence.


Seemingly, irrespective of the continent, today’s “man camps” of the “drill, baby frack” corporate barons are yesterday’s trading posts, mining squats, and the railroad’s “hell-on-wheels,” though in sections of the Amazon, those mining squats remain.

If we save one child from rape; if we save one teenage girl from sex-slavery; if we save one Native woman from the hands of a murderer, this campaign will have succeeded. 


To the victims held in physical and emotional bondage – we will not abandon you.


To the victims’ families – we hear you.


To those whose lives have been tragically taken – we will not forget you.

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