November is Native American Heritage Month. What does ‘MMIW’ Mean?

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Over the past few years, Indigenous communities have been calling for action on cases of MMIW – Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women. Many times, MMIW cases are not investigated further due to a lack of communication between tribal and other law enforcement.

In some counties in the United States, Native American women face up to 10 times the national average of murder and sexual assault. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide is the third-highest cause of death for Native women.

While these instances of violence occur on Native land, they are overwhelmingly committed by non-Native people, which leaves them outside the jurisdiction of tribal law enforcement.

Often, these non-Native people are brought onto Native land through “man-camps”, a temporary form of housing built for oil workers. When Native families go to law enforcement to report MMIW’s, their cases are written off as runaways, their causes of death are misrepresented, and, too often, they are simply ignored.

In recent years, this has led to a call for “No more stolen sisters”. In 2015, grassroots movements by First Nations women and families prompted the Canadian government to initiate a National Inquiry.

In the US, President Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced a plan addressing the MMIW crisis in 2019, leaving the Native community torn around an overwhelmingly violent administration.

However, solving the MMIW crisis goes further than research and investigation. As Nick Martin summarizes, “On the part of the colonizing nation responsible for much of the violence, solving the MMIW crisis requires a substantial change in how American politicians and their constituencies understand tribal nations and their right to govern their land.”

Originally posted 2020-11-02 12:00:51.

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