May 5 is National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Awareness Day with events happening locally in Western Montana. The day has been declared nationally, with a proclamation issued and signed locally by Mayor Engen in 2017.

All are invited to join us from 7 to 9:30 p.m. this Thursday at the U of M Campus Oval to help bring awareness to our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Men, Girls, Two-Spirited and Grieving Families in Montana. This event is open to all, is free, and requires no registration. The evening will include an honor song and elders blessings, words from local families and survivors, a candlelight vigil, smudging, and Main Hall and the "M" will be lit up in red.

Photo by Angel
Photo by Angel

At last year's gathering, there were quite a few children in attendance, aging from babies to young adults, and I personally felt so grateful that they could witness and learn that domestic abuse, family violence, trafficking, and murder are not acceptable for our Indigenous people, and that none of it should be considered a way of life or "normal" for tribal members, or any human beings. I feel like the kids were really listening, and taking it all in, which is so encouraging.

During Missoula's 2021 MMIW event, the aunt of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places shared her story and pain with us, and offered the very powerful statement that her family should not have to prove that Kaysera's life mattered in order to obtain justice for their murdered family member. Dr. Annie Belcourt (Otter Woman) spoke of how her family has been affected by the MMIW crisis, she's also an incredible writer, you can find more from her here. Heart crushing statics were shared and speakers informed the crowd of what we can do as a community to stop our daughters, mothers, sisters, aunties, and cousins from dying from preventable causes of death. Indigenous female leaders took the stage to share the tragic statistics of Native women and girls who become victims in Montana. Red ribbon shirts and lone, red silhouettes representing women lost to violence surrounded the crowd.

Photo by Angel
Photo by Angel
This Thursday's event is 100% Indigenous-led and organized by Native Action and Indigenous Vision in collaboration with the following community partners to help bring awareness to our missing & murdered relatives, many thanks to:

Poverello Center, Inc.
University of Montana
Snowbird Fund
Missoula County
National Indigenous Womens Resource Center
Student Advocacy Resource Center
Partnership Health Center
YWCA - Missoula

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