ICYMI: The #MMIWG movement kinda had a moment

Chronically-ignored, “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” issue gets some Valentine’s Day love

A Flagstaff, AZ activist endures sleet and snow at a candlelight vigil for killed Diné woman, Nicole Joe. (Jenni Monet)

When Serafina Joe held a candlelight vigil in honor of her slain Navajo sister on a soggy Valentine’s Day in Flagstaff, AZ, members of the local press were there.

In Fargo, ND, the local TV news stations devoted ample airtime to cover a similar event — a daytime walk paying tribute to the hundreds of Indigenous women, girls and transgender people who have been murdered or gone missing in the region and nationwide.

Across the Great Plains, other rallies were marked with a write-up in TeenVogue, while in nearby Minnapolis, another event was live-streamed by the guerrilla news outlet, Unicorn Riot.

And on Facebook, presidents of five tribal colleges in the region showed their solidarity while on a business trip in Washington DC. Together, they posed for a photo while holding the red T-shirts printed for the memorial events that they had missed on account of being in the nation’s capital.

Presidents of five Great Plains tribal colleges show their support for the “Remembering The Hearts Of Our Women” walk in Fargo, ND on Wed. Feb. 15, also Valentine’s Day. L — R: Cynthia Lindquist (Cankdeska Cikana Community College), Jim Davis (TurtleMountain Community College), Laurel Vermillion (Sitting Bull College), Leander ‘Russ’ McDonald (United Tribes Technical College), Twyla Baker (Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College).

To be sure, the movement known as #MMIWG — an acronym for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls — has timed activism around Valentine’s Day in years past. At once, the effort forces exposure to a flip-sided reality that Indigenous women face when it comes to intimacy and violence. Native women and girls face the second-highest murder rate in America. Their killers most often are someone they trusted, loved, or knew.

But obtaining justice in a majority of these cases has been difficult. And receiving like-minded coverage of this violence, in the press, has equally been uneven.

There were several other #MMIWG events that did not receive media attention such as the march in Denver, Seattle or the vigil held on the campus of the University of Montana, Missoula.

Why it matters to pay attention to this mobilization is politically important. As I reported in my piece last week for National Native News, proposed legislation is at stake that could help curb this chronically ignored, violent trend — what many across Indian Country have called an epidemic.

Valentine’s Day, a day for #MMIWG Action — National Native News