National day brings awareness to missing and murdered Native women and girls

A 12-foot-tall kuspuk featuring portraits of 250 missing or murdered Indigenous women is presented on stage at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Fairbanks, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Casey Grove/Alaska Public Media)

May 5 is National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

The missing and murdered Native women epidemic is an issue affecting Indigenous people in the United States, Canada and around the world.

In the U.S., there is no official federal database on the issue, and many members of the movement argue that law enforcement has not done enough to investigate the women who’ve gone missing.

The little available data is grim: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly half of all Native American women have experienced intimate partner violence, and on some reservations women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average.

Indigenous activists and other nonprofits have created a movement in the U.S., working to raise awareness of the issue through organized marches, community meetings, the building of databases and domestic violence trainings for police.

While in-person events weren’t happening Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, many will wear red to remember the women and girls affected by the epidemic. The goal is to honor those who have been lost, and hold people in power accountable for investigating those losses.