The efforts to increase awareness regarding the terrible tragedies of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, #MMIW and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls #MMIWG, are getting an increased boost in exposure due to a new Washington state law, a continuous daily tweet that gets hundreds of shares and retweets daily, a new documentary film titled 1200+ and a new MMIW data website run by a doctoral student.
Thanks to the Washington law and the documentary, new evidence is to be introduced at a state, national and international level, including in the United States and Canada.
These four efforts include the following:
The Documentary Film 1200+
During the United Nations’ 62 session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, there was a film screening of a documentary about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.
The film titled, 1200+, focuses on a region in Canada where the Indigenous community has been tragically impacted by Indigenous women and girls who are victims of violence, kidnapping, sex trafficking and murder. The documentary was created and produced by journalist Sheila North, who is now the Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, and filmmaker Leonard Yakir.
Canada’s law enforcement claim there are over 1,200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, but independent reports ascertain the number is in the several thousands. In the documentary, North examines how and why these women and girls go missing.
“We need to raise awareness and bring international attention to the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada,” said Grand Chief North in a release.
“My passion for these women and girls, and their stories, is based on personal experience. Not only am I from a family who has experienced such a loss, I was a young Indigenous woman myself, and I can look back and see all the dangerous situations I was put in while living as an Indigenous woman in the urban environment. Now, as someone with more life experience, I know those dark corners of Canada’s town and cities that need more light, that need more helping hands reaching in, and that’s a big reason I made this documentary.”
“Indigenous families and communities are hurting and missing loved ones right across the country. The focus of ‘1200+’ is the families in Manitoba, which some call ground-zero for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issue,” said Leonard Yakir. “…hopefully awareness and understanding will also bring change.”
According to the filmmakers, the rights to the film are with CTV in Canada to televise the film. CTV provided permission to host an initial special screening in the US. The final version has not yet screened and the producers hope to have it go through the film festivals.
1200+ film trailer on Vimeo
MMIW Database Website
A new Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls database website has been built and is actively maintained by a Southern Cheyenne doctoral student, Annita Lucchesi. According to Lucchesi’s latest database collections, she currently has 2,501 cases in the database, 66% of the cases are murder cases, and 38% have occured in the United States.
“The MMIW Database logs cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people in Canada and the United States, from 1900 to the present,” Lucchesi writes on her website.
Lucchesi continues, “There are many lists and sources of information online, but no central database that is routinely updated, includes both Canada and the US, and thoroughly logs important aspects of the data, and overall, there is a chronic lack of data on this violence. The database works to address that need, by maintaining a comprehensive resource to support community members, advocates, activists, and researchers in their work towards justice for our stolen sisters.”
Lucchesi writes that she is a survivor of domestic and sexual violence, and is doing her dissertation research on community projects mapping this data.
A New Washington State Law Orders A Study On How To Increase Reporting on MMIW
A new Washington initiative known as House Bill 2951–ordering a study to determine how to increase reporting and investigation of missing Indigenous / Native American women–was recently voted into law.
As described in an article by Crosscut, State Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, has proposed requiring the state patrol to work with tribal law enforcement, federally recognized tribes, urban Indian organizations and the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to come up with better ways to report and identify missing Indigenous / Native American women throughout Washington state.
“There’s currently no comprehensive data collection system for reporting or tracking missing Native American women,” McCabe said in January. “That’s a travesty and I know Washington can do better.”
A Senate version was introduced in February. Currently, there is no master list of missing Native Americans that could be shared among organizations and government agencies who have up until this law’s passage, have kept their own data.
A Daily Tweet
Since April 08, 2014, Delores Schilling, co-host of the online radio program Native Trailblazers, has been tweeting a daily tweet in an attempt to generate awareness regarding the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada.
Her tweet states: “I have been tweeting this everyday. Will you join me? Over 4200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women – #MMIW.”
I have been tweeting this everyday.
Will you join me?
— Delores Schilling (@DelSchilling) April 19, 2018
Each day, due to her nearly 22,000 followers and continuous efforts over the past four years, @DelSchilling’s tweet gets hundreds of retweets and shares. Her tweet often gets support from a plethora of big name celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Ellen Barkin and more.
Though her efforts have been consistently successful in generating awareness, Schilling also gets backlash due to the increased exposure. She has been threatened with violence, cursed at and ridiculed. She says she will not be deterred.
Regarding the Tweet I Tweet Daily:
Please don’t Politicize the Deaths of Relatives.
It is Painful and Disrespectful.
Already, I have a folder with threats, and Racial Slurs in response to a Tweet that is for one reason.
I tweet it for Awareness.
— Delores Schilling (@DelSchilling) February 17, 2018
On April 08, 2018. One of her followers pointed out she had been doing this for four years. In these four years, Schilling has tweeted every day, and has never missed a 24-hour period in that time.
Schilling says, “The families never miss one day of thinking about their missing or murdered loved one, I owe them that time to think about them.”
Disclosure: Delores Schilling is married to Vincent Schilling.
Troubling statistics regarding MMIW / MMIWG
The National Crime Information Database
5,712 known incidents of missing and murdered Indigenous women in 2016
National Institute of Justice
More than four out of five Native women have experienced violence in their lives.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Homicide the third-leading cause of death among Native women ages 10 to 24.
U.S. Department of Justice
Native women living on reservations are 10 times more likely to be murdered than those off the reservation.
See Indian Country Today’s related extensive coverage:
Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter Follow @VinceSchilling