UNITY In Action: 165 Organizations Call for a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls

Over 165 tribal, state, regional, and national organizations have signed on to our call to action in support of missing and murdered Native women and girls,” said Lucy Simpson, Director, NIWRC. “We hope the resolution will focus the government’s attention on this crisis.”

The list of 165 organizations continues to grow as awareness builds on an issue described as an epidemic and a crisis that has long been ignored. “The epidemic of violence we are living is directly connected to abusers walking free without fear of the law, fear of civil liability, or fear of criminal prosecution,” said Terri Henry, Secretary of State for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “It is widespread, but it is not something new.”

The call for a national day of awareness looks to the lessons learned by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) in building an international movement for justice and accountability for missing and murdered aboriginal women. The NWAC launched a campaign named “Sisters in Spirit” that resulted in increased awareness worldwide and action by the Canadian Parliament to begin a national inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.

“The response of the movement to our call to action in support of Native women and girls is inspiring,” said Cherrah Giles, President, NIWRC Board. “But it is a first step. Much more needs to be done to address the violence and save lives. The national inquiry launched by the Canadian government is one example of what we as indigenous women need here in the United States.”

The list of over 165 organizations recognizes the urgency to take action and the reality that every day violence is committed against American Indian and Alaska Native women. Many view violence against Native women not as a single incident but a pattern that occurs as a spectrum over time. Native women who are missing or murdered is one end of the spectrum of violence rooted in the history of violence against Indian nations by the United States.

“Our Native sisters have been educating us for decades, and we now realize as non-Native organizations we must speak out and stand up. We must use our voices to call for action to end the violence,” said Rob Valente, Chief Officer for Governmental Affairs, National Domestic Violence Hotline. “The reality of missing Native women and girls is everyone’s responsibility. The Hotline is honored to support the resolution.”