Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, It Affects Us All

On February 1-2, 2018, Arizona State University hosted the American Indian Studies Association Conference. The program was divided into sessions with specific keynote members of the Indigenous community speaking about a wide range of important topics.

One of the most popular sessions, however, was when Marena “Bright Eyes” Mahto discussed the atrocities Indigenous communities face when a tribal member goes missing or is murdered. Many communities face unimaginable grief; through sweats, through ceremonies, the grief remains and the spirit of the tribe is dismantled.

Mahto explained that in the United States, there is no way to track missing Indigenous individuals. Additionally, there is no known number of how many do go missing. Some people have even taken it into their own hands going door to door, meeting to meeting, identifying and adding up missing or murdered Indigenous women. The missing are invisible and when the legal system does get involved, justice is usually miniscule.

One of the most recent cases in my tribe, (Navajo), is Nicole Joe. She was a mother of two and was seen as a caring and kind person, despite her struggles with alcoholism. Tragically, she was murdered in a domestic violence dispute on Christmas Day in 2017.

4 out of 5 Indigenous women will face violence in their lifetime and Nicole is one of numerous women who became victims of violence. This statistic also includes individuals on college campuses, because it was found that majority of Indigenous women vanish from either reservations or university grounds.

Awareness of how many Indigenous women go missing needs to be more widely spread among college campuses nationwide, many of which happen to be sitting on reservations! We as students can help by knowing the names and recognizing the signs of the missing.

In this link, you can find information to aid in identifying a missing person and the steps in how to report to authorities.