‘Sing Our Rivers Red’ March Casts New Light on Intergenerational Crisis is the first article about the ongoing effort to see justice done when it comes to Indigenous women being assaulted and murdered. There continues to be great difficulty in this, because very few people care when indigenous women go missing, or have been raped, or end up as a corpse, tossed away like a bit of trash.
Valentine’s Day has become the official day for Native women to recognize and memorialize the missing and murdered women and girls whom they believe government leaders in the United States and Canada too often ignore. They began holding an annual march in 1992, after an Indigenous woman was found murdered and dismembered in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood.
For Native communities, the border between the United States and Canada is nonexistent; many tribal communities, including Blackfeet, Ojibwe, and Mohawk, straddle the border and have members in both the United States and Canada. They are asking why only Canadian officials have begun exploring violence against Native women.
Canadian Indigenous women’s groups began calling attention to the high rates of missing and murdered women and girls in the 1990s, when Indigenous women and girls started going missing along the now-dubbed Highway of Tears, a 450-mile length of the Yellowhead Highway 16 in British Columbia. Between 1989 and 2006, nine women were found murdered or went missing along the highway, which passes through and near about a dozen small First Nations communities.
Many Indigenous people believe that the number is actually much higher: Indigenous people often resort to hitchhiking along the remote highway that has little public transportation.
The second installment on this story is Sorrow Like a River: Forcing the World to Listen.
Most advocates for missing and murdered indigenous women are motivated by the loss of family member or friend as well as ongoing stories of loss in their communities.
When Makoons Miller Tanner works on her volunteer blog, she often thinks of her grandmother, who passed away in the 1940s, long before she was born. “She was in her 20s when she was killed. The authorities declared her death to be the result of her hitting her head on a rock after a seizure. This for a woman with no history of a seizure disorder,” Miller Tanner said. “She hit her head on that rock nearly 75 times.”
Her family still speaks of the hurt and anger over the injustice surrounding her grandmother’s death. After hearing the story repeated many times, she grew determined to contribute somehow to helping others find justice for their loved ones.
There’s no excuse for the lack of interest. There’s no excuse for the lack of investigation. There’s no excuse for the lack of advocates. This is a blight of shame on those who turn their backs, on those who avert their eyes.