Anishinaabek Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party
Nationally, criminals target Native American women for 34% of all rapes and 61% of all assaults (“Violence Against Women in Indian Country,” Indian Country Today, 2015), yet Native Women are less than 1.7% of the U.S. population (Census Bureau, 2010). In Michigan, there are 4 victims of human trafficking for every 100,000 residents (World Population Review, 2020). Native Americans are 0.6% of the population. Governor Whitmer recognizes the linkage between human trafficking and the greater likelihood Michigan Native Women will be targeted, by naming May 5 as Awareness Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). The Anishinaabek Caucus thanks Governor Whitmer. Now the Anishinaabek Caucus asks Governor Whitmer to take steps towards measurable action.
The Anishinaabek Caucus makes 3 requests. One, Native Women must have representation on the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission. Two, ‘Indigenous’ must be added as a demographic to the Michigan Department of Human Health and Services statistics on human trafficking. Three, safety of Native Women must be a benchmark for Michigan agency permits, including Michigan’s Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The proposed tunnel for Enbridge’s Line-5 will require encampments for their temporary workers. These man-camps will threaten the lives of women and children on both sides of the Mackinac Bridge.
Canada completed a study (National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, June 2019) confirming a correlation between the risk of MMIW and man-camps. There is “a strong link between extraction zones on the missing and murdered and women…” as summarized by Abaki Beck for Yes Magazine, 2019. Tunnel construction would bring the same influx of workers into Michigan’s communities.
“In Canada…studies found First Nations women and youth represent between 70% and 90% of the visible sex trade in areas where the Aboriginal population is less than 10%.” (MSU, Legal Studies Research Paper Series, no 12-01, “Rising Waters, Rising Threats The Human Trafficking of Indigenous Women in the Circumpolar Region of the United States and Canada,” Victoria Sweet, 2014) In the same paper Sweet notes, “very few comparable studies have been conducted in the United States.
Michigan has failed to address the probable rise of human trafficking should Enbridge’s proposed tunnel begin construction. In Wawatam Township, Emmett County, Enbridge has purchased 16 parcels (Bridge, “As Michigan battle rages on Line 5, Enbridge quietly buys land for tunnel,” Ted Roelofs, 2020).
The State is correct to recognize MMIW. Measurable accountability is the next step.
Anishinaabek Caucus of MDP is a political caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party advocating for the issues and concerns of the 12 Tribes in Michigan.