“When the community doesn’t know about it, we can’t respond to it. How do you respond to violence you don’t even know exists? How do you respond to violence you don’t track?” ~Annita Lucchesi, Executive Director, Sovereign Bodies Institute
At Solid Ground, we believe all oppression is linked; we cannot work toward justice for some groups while ignoring others. While events of the past year have focused light on the racist violence targeting Black people and Asian-American/Pacific Islanders, Indigenous communities have faced a less well-known epidemic – violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Thankfully, the new Washington State biennial budget has funded a $500,000 budget allocation, supported by Solid Ground, to convene a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Taskforce in the state. The taskforce is coordinated by the Office of the Attorney General and was established in coordination with the American Indian Health Commission, Seattle Indian Health Board, and community members.
In 2019, the third-leading cause of death for Indigenous women aged 15-34 was murder – and Indigenous women are murdered at a rate of 10 times higher than all other ethnicities. ~Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics
For decades, women and girls in Indigenous communities have been going missing and/or being murdered without much notice from the United States mainstream media. In 2019, the CDC reported that the third-leading cause of death for Indigenous women aged 15-34 was murder. Moreover, Indigenous women are murdered at a rate of 10 times higher than all other ethnicities.
The lack of attention, care, and understanding of the crisis surrounding murdered and/or missing Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) creates a sense that this only affects American Indian and Alaska Native communities who are living on reservations. Not true! According to the Urban Indian Health Institute at the Seattle Indian Health Board, “Washington State rated second-highest in the Nation for missing Indigenous women cases in urban centers, and Seattle rated first among cities nationwide in MMIWG cases, with Tacoma rating seventh.”
This violence, and the lack of attention to it, can be understood as a direct continuation of settler colonialism and the historic attempted genocide of Indigenous North Americans. As an organization on our own journey toward anti-racism, we condemn these violent acts. We are currently working to support agencies and activists working to better understand this issue and stop violence against Indigenous peoples.
We invite our community to learn more about the MMIWG crisis and join in solidarity to support this work:
- Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (Urban Indian Health Institute)
- Not Invisible (A Seattle Times Docuseries)
- Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act: Addressing the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (Seattle Indian Health Board)
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (Native Womens Wilderness)
- Rep. Dan Newhouse renews plea for special federal office in Yakima to focus on missing, murdered Indigenous women (The Seattle Times)