The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Movement

 Rosalie Fish, 20, is an indigenous woman from Auburn, Washington. Rosalie is also a member of the Cowlitz Tribe and currently runs track for Iowa Central Community College. When Fish runs, she puts her heart and soul into every meet because she knows if she does not perform to her best ability, people will treat her as if she does not belong there. During her NCAA recruiting process, she dedicated each of her runs to The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Movement. Fish is not the first of her generation to use athletics as a voice in this movement. 

What is MMIW? The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Movement was started to raise awareness for women in Native American communities who face violence or sexual assault. The federal government does not acknowledge missing persons or murders in the Native communities, meaning many of the women and children who are missing are not documented.

The movement is protesting the government’s lack of support for native women. The United States gave Tribal Governments the power to be able to handle cases within their communities without bringing it to a federal level, but these tribal governments lose jurisdiction when it involves non-natives. The case is turned over to the state or the federal courts if deemed serious enough. The issue arises when these federal courts choose not to acknowledge the damage being done to the Indigenous communities.

Due to the lack of support from the government, these Indigenous communities take issues into their own hands. They peacefully protest and use news sources for media coverage, but even these efforts are not enough to speak up for the countless missing women. In many of the protests, the police show up and try to “tame” protestors. They use tear gas and threaten people with their weapons to get the protesters to disperse.

According to the Center for Disease Control, in America alone, murder is the third leading causing of death for these women. Another statistic shows Indigenous women are murdered at a ten times higher rate than any other ethnicities. In their lifetimes, about 84.3% of Indigenous women experience sexual violence (4 out of 5 women). They are also twice as likely to be raped than white women.

To raise awareness, Indigenous people and allies have worn the color red as a spiritual symbol to “bring back” the women and children lost over the years. Red dresses are hung in forests for spiritual ceremonies to commemorate missing loved ones. In most cases, athletes and protesters will have a painted red hand imprinted on their faces.

The government has tried for years to suppress them, but now is the time to speak up and raise awareness for vast number of missing and murdered women and children. Rosalie Fish and Jordan Daniel are only a few names of Indigenous athletes supporting the cause. We need to ensure the rights of these minorities are not violated due to their lack of representation in the government. The world is evolving at hypersonic speed, and everyone has to be able to keep up. To do that, we need to amend past mistakes.

– Michelle O’Connor ’22

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