NAISA and RAR discuss the violence affecting Indigenous women and girls

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A women holds a sign at a march dedicated towards the missing in murdered Indigenous women in Canada. According to the Native Women Wilderness, Indigenous women and girls are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Photo courtesy of Culturally Disorientated.

The growing number of missing and murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) constitutes one of the worst human rights crises of our time, yet many people are unaware is occurring. This crisis is disproportionately affecting Indigenous women and girls in Canada and the United States. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) mass movement was created to confront this crisis and raise awareness through taking various actions to stop the violence. 

According to Native Women Wilderness, Indigenous women and girls are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Far too often, Indigenous women have been targets of hate, violence and cruel acts. Many cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women are either not reported or not properly investigated by the police due to bias and other factors. Additionally, one in three Native women are sexually assaulted during their lifetime.  

A majority of these murders and other violent acts are committed by non-Native people on Native-owned land and signals the need for strong communication between state, local and tribal law enforcement to ensure these crimes are investigated thoroughly, and the offenders are brought to justice. 

To address this crisis and raise awareness about it on the UConn campus, the Native American & Indigenous Students Association and Revolution Against Rape teamed up to host an event that discussed the MMIWG movement and provided background information on why oil pipelines and other projects that are harmful to the environment are contributing to the high number of Indigenous women who go missing and are murdered.  

The event concentrated on how pipeline construction leads to “man camps,” temporary housing facilities constructed for predominantly male workers for projects that involve oil, pipeline, mining and other non-eco-friendly entities. These camps are often found on reservations and Native land and bring with them high violence and crime rates, especially for women. 

“It’s important to understand that any extraction process is inherently violent and damaging to the land and the people,” Zoe Blevins, a sixth-semester human rights and German major and the vice president of NAISA, said. 

“It’s important to understand that any extraction process is inherently violent and damaging to the land and the people”

Zoe Blevins, Vice President of the Native American & Indigenous Student Association

A key point made during the event was the idea of intersectionality, and how it relates to the violence against Indigenous women and girls. The environment and police forces are two of the main points that were discussed. Many attendees agreed there must be stronger laws to ensure that Native land is respected and not wrongfully taken by the government. 

“We have to break down barriers of oppression and that heavily includes federal jurisdiction, unfortunately, in these crimes,” Sage Phillips, a sixth-semester political science and human rights major and the president of NAISA, said.  

“We have to break down barriers of oppression and that heavily includes federal jurisdiction, unfortunately, in these crimes.”

Sage Phillips, President of Native American & Indigenous Student Association

Indigenous women continue to be the targets of unprecedented levels of violence throughout the United States. MMIWG is one of many organizations working to end this and allow Indigenous women and girls to live freely without the constant fear of going missing, being sexually assaulted or being murdered.  

“When we talk about liberation, it’s not incremental, it’s either you’re free or you’re not free, which is why you have to battle all of these things in an intersectional way.”

Chloe Murphy, eighth-semester Africana Studies major

“When we talk about liberation, it’s not incremental, it’s either you’re free or you’re not free, which is why you have to battle all of these things in an intersectional way,” Chloe Murphy, an eighth semester Africana Studies major, said. 

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