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Friday, May 3, 2024

Wear Red For Missing and Murdered | May 5 2024


StrongHearts Native Helpline encourages wearing the color red in honor of the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) on May 5, 2024.

“An annual awareness day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls attention to epidemic levels of violence against Native Americans and Alaska Natives,” said CEO Lori Jump, StrongHearts Native Helpline. “We support raising awareness to ensure that our missing and murdered relatives are not forgotten and the future of our young ones can be spared this crisis.”

Red Calls To The Ancestors

It has been said that red is a color that transcends the physical world and calls to the ancestors in the spirit world. For ceremony and pow-wow, Native Americans dressed their children in red as an introduction to the ancestors – calling upon them as guardians to the young. However, the color red had other uses and symbolic meanings that differ among Indigenous tribes in North America. On May 5th, the role of red is being used to call attention to the invisible – missing and murdered.

A Crack in the Landscape of Justice

Native Americans know that there is a crack in the landscape of justice. The underlying issue of not having jurisdictional authority over non-Natives living on Native-owned land sends a powerful message of being untouchable. It’s a flaw in the judicial system that appears to be rigged against Native women and in favor of non-Native men – a gaping loophole that has left thousands of survivors without access to justice and healing.

Topping a long list of reasons why Tribal law enforcement officials are unable to fully respond to this crisis includes lack of adequate staff and funding but the crux of this crisis points to complex jurisdictional issues impacting Tribal Nations and their citizens.

Startling Statistics

In some counties, Native women are being murdered at a rate ten times higher than other ethnicities. These higher rates of violence against Native American women are in no small part due to federal law limiting tribal court’s jurisdiction to criminally prosecute non-Native people who commit crimes on tribal lands.

“In most cases, Tribal courts do not have jurisdiction over non-Natives who commit crimes against Native people,” Jump explained. “This is where the criminal justice system largely fails to protect Native women and girls and jurisdictional gaps allow perpetrators to commit crimes on tribal land with impunity.”

According to the National Crime Information Center, 5,712 American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls were reported missing in 2016 alone, but only 116 of those cases were logged with the Department of Justice. Additionally, in a study of the National Institute of Justice, it was found that 84 percent of Native women experience violence in their lifetimes, and 56 percent experience sexual violence.

The harsh reality of these statistics is staggering, but even more worrisome are Native victims who experienced intimate partner violence – an astounding 97 percent were victimized by non-Native perpetrators.

Jurisdiction Key Element

The issue of our missing and murdered Indigenous relatives is not a new one. Without public awareness or media attention, this crisis will continue to afflict Tribal communities. This is especially true in locations where the extractive industry (mining, oil, coal, gold and other minerals) has set up “man camps” (temporary housing for transient workers) located near Tribal land and resources.

“If not for complex court jurisdiction issues between Tribal, state and federal governments and a severe lack of resources, Native people might have a clearer path toward justice,” said Jump. “Instead, our relatives face jurisdictional issues that not only protects the perpetrator, it emboldens them.”

High rates of violence against Native Americans and Alaska Natives, coupled with a severe lack of resources make the services offered through StrongHearts Native Helpline even more critical.

“Our relatives need and deserve a culturally appropriate helpline that understands the issues of domestic and sexual violence and understands the jurisdictional issues which are such an important part of that equation,” concluded Jump. “Our relatives deserve opportunities for healing and StrongHearts is committed to helping them find it,” concluded Jump.

StrongHearts Native Helpline serves all individuals who reach out for their services regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or any other factor protected by local, state, or federal law. Call or text 1-844-762-8483 or chat online at

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