Spokane community to walk for missing and murdered Indigenous people on Wednesday

MMIW art design 2021
Designed by Nez Perce artist Helen Goodteacher to support The Native American Alliance for Policy and Action MMIW events in 2021

SPOKANE, Wash. — To honor missing and murdered Indigenous people (MMIP), members of the Spokane community will wear red and walk holding signs and photos of relatives missing or lost to violence in recognition of National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on Wednesday, May 5.

Hosted by the Native American Alliance for Policy and Action, the walk will begin at the Tribal Gathering Place at 6 p.m. and end at the Riverfront Park Pavilion at 7 p.m., where they will have a candlelight vigil with songs and prayers. The gathering is one of many in a nationwide effort to support MMIP bill HB1571 and ensure more accurate data is available regarding missing Indigenous people.

The event will include an opening drum group, speakers and impacted families.

With support of City Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson and the Downtown Spokane Partnership, the Pavilion lights and other monuments around Spokane will be lit red and purple to recognize the day of awareness. The color purple comes at the request of Spokane Tribe member Kamiah Bird’s family. Bird was murdered last year in Las Vegas, but there are currently no leads in the case and family and friends are still seeking answers.

Earth-Feather Sovereign, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes and founder of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Washington, will be in attendance and honoring survivors and families with blankets as part of the MMIW Blanket Project. She will also update on the latest MMIW legislation proposed in Washington State HB 1571 and share ways the community can support and take action.

“Traditionally, Native Americans gift giving in a sacred manner has always been a part of our culture,” she said. “Giving and receiving a blanket is one of the highest forms of respect in honoring someone.”

In Spokane, five of the nine MMIP cases are children between the ages of 14 and 17, and nearly 40 percent of active cases statewide involve children under the age of 18. More than four in five Indigenous women and men have experienced violence in their lifetime, and more than one in three experienced violence in the past year, according to a 2016 report from the National Institute of Justice.

The event is co-sponsored by Tribal Native American Alliance for Policy Action (TNAAPA), the Spokane Community Against Racism (SCAR), Red Skirt Society, Helen Goodteacher, Modern Tipi, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women-WA, Human Rights Activists Coterie of Spokane (HRAC), MAC Movement, Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition, NATIVE Project, MMIW2SMB and River Warrior Society.