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The Missing and Murdered: Indigenous Women Forgotten in the Americas Human Rights 

The Missing and Murdered: Indigenous Women Forgotten in the Americas

(RustBelt) – Last night I attended a vigil held for the memory of Savanna Greywind, a Fargo, ND Indigenous woman, who was brutally murdered allegedly by her neighbors in an attempt to steal her baby. She was eight months pregnant when she was killed, and her body was found, wrapped in plastic and duct-tape, in the Red River. A newborn baby girl, believed to be Savanna’s, was discovered shortly before at the neighbor’s apartment.

This particular story isn’t unfamiliar. It’s an unfortunate truth that mentally warped individuals with no consciences occasionally target pregnant women for their babies. What did surprise me was learning how many Indigenous women, from Canada all the way down into Central America are routinely “disappeared” or murdered without any media attention or societal concern. It’s become a problem of epidemic proportions, and yet, the silence surrounding these cases is deafening.

Much in the way that black and brown non-Indigenous girls and women go missing in cities without much attention from law enforcement, Indigenous women also vanish at a shockingly high rate on a per capita basis. In addition, they are more likely to be physically abused, raped, or murdered than their non-Indigenous peers, but the police rarely solve these crimes against them. Complicating these cases are issues of jurisdiction between native sovereign land and the countries that surround them. Both Canada and the United States essentially allow non-natives to commit crimes on Indigenous reservations without any repercussions. That’s a chilling fact for reservation residents, especially women.

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, giving a speech on missing and murdered indigenous women in front of parliament in Ottawa, 4 October 2016 – By Delusion23 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In various people saying words of prayer and solace last night, a theme emerged. Women are our past, our present, and our future. By dishonoring and subjugating and killing women, we destroy our pasts and ruin our futures. There’s also a strong parallel between how a society will treat Mother Earth and how its women are or are not respected. We’re all one, and much in the way of “Ubuntu”, what hurts one of us eventually hurts us all.

Over burning sage and a solid drum cadence, we chose to lift Savanna Greywind’s memory up in our hearts. By doing so, her murder will not go unforgotten. Her story will be woven in with our own, and she will remind us to do better for all the many thousands of women, who have disappeared. In this way, we can work for a brighter future.

This report prepared by Lessa Leigh for The Rust Belt Tribune

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