Senator John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Senators Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., among other Congressional leaders announced Thursday that the Senate had passed a resolution designating May 5th as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls, MMIW / MMIWG.
“The epidemic of missing and murdered Native women and girls has tragically affected families and communities throughout Indian Country, including those in North Dakota,” Hoeven said.
“By standing together and raising awareness, we can promote solutions to prevent and combat the exploitation and violence that many Native women face,” he said. “This national day of awareness shines a light on this crisis, commemorates the lives lost, and signifies a bipartisan effort to advance critical protections for Native women and girls.”
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Hoeven recently secured a provision to require a three percent set-aside from the Crime Victims Fund be provided directly to Indian tribes – amounting to nearly $132 million per year for tribal victim assistance resources.
Hoeven has also convened multiple committee hearings on pressing tribal public safety issues, including a North Dakota field hearing on Native youth safety and an oversight hearing on combating human trafficking in Indian Country.
Also making changes in Indian country is Sen. Heitkamp who recently embarked on a #NotInvisible social media campaign that went viral and has been working on legislation known as Savannah’s Act to address Missing and Murdered Indigenous women in North America.
Heitkamp told Indian Country Today: "There's an epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. If we don't have an urgent, national conversation about the causes and solutions, we'll never prevent tragedies or get justice for victims.”
“The National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls is an opportunity to raise awareness, like I've done with the #NotInvisible campaign and through legislation like Savanna's Act. It's impossible to hear the stories and statistics and not be outraged that more action hasn't been taken, so I urge everyone to take some time on May 5, and every day, to read about Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, Monica Wickre, Stella Marie Trottier-Graves, Lakota Rae Renville, Lindsay Vivier White, and countless others.”
“We owe it to them to not only remember, but take action to prevent these heinous crimes in the future."
Though there are a multitude of efforts in Canada to create awareness regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls MMIW / MMIWG, to include a national Canadian inquiry, this is the first such legislation of its kind in the United States.