If you enter the Sanctuary in the next couple of months, be sure to take a look at the MMIWP profiles and faceless felt dolls on the walls of the foyer. The “Invisible No More” exhibition generates a visual representation of the many indigenous people who have become “faceless” victims of violence.
Did you know that Washington State has one of the highest MMIW cases compared to other states? Of 71 cities surveyed in 2018 and since by the Indian Urban Indian Health Institute, Seattle has had the largest number of such cases. Nationwide, 84% of American Indians and Alaskan Natives report experiencing violence during their lifetimes, and 56% experience sexual violence specifically. In some counties, the murder rates of American Indians/Alaskan Natives are ten times the national average.
East Shore’s Women’s Perspective and Indigenous Connections Team collaborated to host a workshop. “Culture, Trauma and Resilience” on January 21. At the workshop, members and guests learned about causes of, and solutions to, the crisis.
Carolyn DeFord, a member of the Puyallup tribe, led the workshop that was attended by nearly 40 women in person and 10 via zoom. Carolyn explained how Federal Indian policy, historical and intergenerational trauma, sex trafficking, jurisdictional issues and media invisibility all contribute to the current MMIWP crisis. Each attendee then created their own doll based on the profiles of actual women, girls, boys and men that Carolyn provided. We invite you to come to East Shore to view “Invisible No More: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and People” and bear witness to the lives of these people cut short by violence.
Many indigenous organizations are working to address the MMIWP crisis. They include:
We R Native, Urban Indian Health Institute, Data for Indigenous Justice, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, StrongHearts Native Helpline (strongheartshelpline.org), Rising Hearts, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, Innovations Human Trafficking Collaborative (innovationshtc.org), Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (csvanw.org).
A bill to create a new unit in the State Attorney General’s Office to help solve cold cases of MMIWP is now before the Washington State legislature in the current session. If you support such a measure, contact your State Representatives to support House Bill 1177 (Companion Senate Bill 5137).
by Marilyn Mayers