Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Movement

By Elijah T. Smith

     While violence against women plagues many communities across the country and around the world, the Native American Indigenous groups in North America are particularly affected by this devastating problem. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) present some of the highest statistics for violence and death. The situation has existed for generations and continues to harm individuals and families to this day.

     The lack of good data and the resulting lack of understanding about the violence perpetrated against urban native women and girls is appalling and adds to the historical and ongoing trauma Indigenous people have experienced for generations. But the resilience of strong Indigenous women and girls has sustained our communities for generation after generation. As the life bearers of our communities, they have been essential to holding strong culture and traditional practices.

     Women in all cultures have historically been the target of violence more than men. In Native American communities that have experienced a high degree of additional problems due to colonialization and the resultant prejudice and economic difficulties, these problems are made worse. 

     Unfortunately, it seems that racism and disregard for Indigenous peoples, in general, may have a lot to do with the lack of solutions for the MMIW problems that plague communities all across our country today. When speaking about violence against women, kidnapping, and murder, two generalized groups emerge. One portion of the victims was affected by domestic violence and hurt at the hands of someone they knew while the others were victims of more randomized acts of violence. 

     The U.S. Department of Justice found that Indigenous women face murder rates higher than 10 times the national average. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Native American women under the age of 35 experience a higher murder risk than many other groups. It is the fifth most leading cause of death for young girls and women from age 10 up to age 35.

     If you feel compelled to help fight against the serious problem of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women across the United States, your first task is to learn all you can about the problem. Study not only the official statistics shared by law enforcement and justice agencies, but look deeper into smaller studies, tribe-based information, and the types of things that people gather on their own. The more education you have about the truth, the more you can discover ways to make the high statistics go down.