“Somebody’s Daughter” Increasing Awareness to Create Change
Indian tribes have continuously raised concerns and made specific recommendations to address the MMIW crisis from the early years of the Violence Against Women Act. Through the VAWA advances have occurred, but clearly, we are only at the beginning of the necessary process of legal, political, and social change. Single reforms have helped, but Congressional action to create larger foundational changes are essential. In the past, votes for or against tribal amendments, was a statement of support or opposition to safety and sovereignty. It was also a very large statement of this country’s knowledge and understanding of Indian tribes as sovereigns, and responsibilities of the U.S. to Indian tribes.
Efforts to inform lawmakers and the general public of the connection to the MMIW crisis to federal legal barriers to protect Native women have made a difference and are important to winning reforms. The release of Somebody’s Daughter, in January is one example of the public education needed on the MMIW crisis. The film released by the Global Indigenous Council makes this connection and advances partnerships with Congressional champions who are working on changes to address MMIW.
Somebody’s Daughter focuses on some of the higher-profile MMIW cases, most of which were raised during the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing in December 2018. With historical points of reference, the victims’ and their families’ stories are told through the lens of the legal jurisdictional maze and socio-economic bondage that constricts Indian Country. For the first time on film, prominent tribal leaders reveal the devastating roles of drug cartels and gangs in the MMIW crisis.
“After watching Somebody’s Daughter many thoughts fevered my brain for hours,” commented Wes Studi, the only Native American actor ever to receive an Oscar. “The search for a solution begins with first knowing a crisis exists,” Studi continued, and the purpose of Somebody’s Daughter is exactly that – to alert lawmakers and the public alike that the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis exists and demands urgent action.
An indigenous production, Somebody’s Daughter was executively produced by the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana and supported by the Blackfeet Nation and Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes in association with the Global Indigenous Council. Somebody’s Daughter is presented by Alter-Native Media and directed by Rain, the team that created Not In Our Name, a short film that featured House Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Congressman Raúl Grijalva, and became the most- watched film on Sierra Club’s social media platforms. Not In Our Name had the distinction of being entered into the Congressional record at a hearing in May 2019. Somebody’s Daughter is narrated by indigenous actor Julian Black Antelope, best- known for his roles in Into The West, Blackstone, Hell on Wheels and Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.
“Must our sisters have to step out into a world filled with monsters ready to use them for their own convenience and comfort, as our sisters hunt for supplies for their own survival? What kind of world have we created for our children?” Wes Studi asked after watching the documentary. “There is no comfort in watching Somebody’s Daughter,” he cautioned, as the documentary provides a heart-wrenching insight into the tragedy.