2018-05-03 / Voices

Remember #MMIW on May 5


Indigenous nations have historically fought to protect the precious women and children. Our Lakota society recognizes women as the backbone of the nation; children are considered sacred beings. There would be no Tribes on Turtle Island without the life-giving power of our women. Also, treating our children as less than sacred will eventually bring our demise.

Saturday, May 5 is dedicated to remembering our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. We will also remember other helpless victims, including our precious children, our men, and our many Two-Spirited or transgender relatives. Today, there are countless reservation families searching for their beloved male or female relatives whom just up and disappeared. Sadly, many young Indigenous women and men that went missing, were later found murdered.

For example, an August 2017 high profile case involved Savannah LaFontaine Greywind of Fargo, North Dakota. The 22-year old Indigenous mother-to-be was kidnapped by a neighbor. Savannah was then murdered after her baby was viciously cut out of her womb; her remains were later found discarded by a river. The killer pled guilty to kidnapping and killing Savannah. A life without parole sentence was ordered for the killer and she is now serving time in prison. Savannah’s daughter is currently thriving in the custody of her father, Ashton Matheny.

Today, we see more of our Indigenous women suffering harm or death after disappearing without a clue. Again, victims aren’t limited to just women and children as there are now many Lakota men not accounted for on our Indian Reservations. Posters depicting missing Indigenous men, women, teenagers and children have been developed for sharing on social media by families who will not give up the search for their relatives.

Drugs, alcohol and violence play a huge part in many missing persons cases. Another threat we now face is the danger which accompanies fossil fuel development.

Unfortunately, planned construction of new oil pipelines near our homelands is a stark reality. The sitting American president has indicated he doesn’t care about the environment by doing away with regulations established to protect our Earth. The movement to exploit the natural resources of Unci Maka is akin to the treatment of Indigenous women. That is, the wasicu is advocating for irreversible damage to our Earth; Indigenous people view the Earth as our Mother, a life-giving planet to all living beings.

TransCanada seeks to build the Keystone XL pipeline through our homeland. This proposed construction will increase drug activity, violence and the trafficking of Indigenous women in our area. KXL will bring what are known as man camps to many areas. Law enforcement has had to deal with increased crime rates on reservations near man camps. Consequently, sex trafficking of Indigenous women increases in the vicinity of a man camp.

The Lakota Country Times reprinted an article by Damon Buckley (Sicangu Lakota) initially published in the Sicangu Eyapaha, a publication of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The article featured the interview of Grace Her Many Horses in May 2014. Serving as Chief of Police on the Fort Berthold Reservation, she shared accounts of her experiences with crime linked to man camps in the oil exploited Bakken Region near Newtown, North Dakota.

When a man camp is established near the pipeline construction route, we will all be danger. Mother Earth and humanity are already endangered by the extraction of oil, along with the pollution of our water resulting from the ongoing pipeline construction. Please talk to all of your relatives about the risks we face from the danger of human/sex trafficking, which has played a huge part in our relatives gone missing.

Please remember all Indigenous People Missing & Murdered on May 5 by attending a local event or wearing red clothing.

Consequently, if you’d like to hear what was actually said at the February 12 school board meeting, you can view a video on YouTube at this link

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