Art Exhibition Raises Awareness on Violence Against Native American Women
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
By Alejandra Palacios - WDIO - January 04, 2019
An art exhibit dedicated to Native American women affected by violence and human trafficking took place Friday at the Powless Cultural Center. The art work was created by people in the region impacted by the issue.
AICHO, a local Native American organization, went beyond the statistics and put an emotional and visual image to the women that have been killed or have gone missing due to the violence and trafficking that exists now.
The art exhibit is called Bring Her Home: Stolen Daughters of Turtle Island.
Turtle Island is the name Native Americans use for North America.
The art exhibit featured a variety of paintings, ceramics, and photographs that showed pain and resilience. Each art display had a story that explained and showed a shocking reality that Native American women face.
Murdered and missing indigenous women are often times underreported. Nationwide reports indicate indigenous women are murdered at more than ten times the national average.
The art exhibit has been featured through several locations across the state.
"All the audiences that are coming in here are going to be seeing a slightly different perspective that reaffirms the existence of indigenous people through art work,” Moira Villiard, the AICHO arts & cultural program coordinator, said.
Several community members came out to support the event and got a deeper understanding of the indigenous wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, who were ripped apart from their families.
The exhibit not only honored their memory, but it also put into perspective the need to stop the violence and trafficking.
The exhibit was free to the public but AICHO was accepting donations that will go towards expanding their domestic violence shelter.
The art exhibit shed light to a problem that needs to end and that affects thousands of indigenous women.
Native American Group Starts Movement to Help Violence and Trafficking Victims
By Alejandra Palacios - January 05, 2019
A local Native American group advocating for justice of missing and murdered indigenous women and relatives is working on starting a search and prevention group for victims of violence and trafficking.
Native Lives Matter hosted a fundraising event Saturday at the Central Hillside Community Center. The funds collected from the event will go towards search trainings and community patrol.
"The event is a feast fundraiser and a silent auction fundraiser to help support two upcoming trainings that we're doing with multiple groups in the area," Rene Ann Goodrich, a Native Lives Matter member, said.
Native Lives Matter, a advocacy group, is working on starting a search and prevention group for indigenous victims of violence and trafficking.
The event was also a solidarity gathering to connect Native Americans affected by violence and trafficking. The gathering offered support and brought awareness to the start of the search group.
The group is hoping to get as many people involved on the mission to reduce the number of missing and murdered indigenous women and relatives.
"We can start doing actual patrols and making presence and letting people know that we are no longer going to stand for our relatives going missing,” Taysha Martineau, a Fond du Lac reservation member, said.
“We are also looking to provide harm reduction kits for those withdrawing from opioids and heroine as that has a direct correlation with women who are forced into sex trafficking,” Martineau said.
"They need to be searched for and should be found and given that respect,” Marco Hont, an organizer of the search group, said.
The name of the search group is Gitchigami/Gitchigumi Scouts. Gitchigami is the Ojibwe word for Lake Superior, representing the need for searches of missing and murdered victims in the local community.
"Not only is the family affected but the community as a whole. The thing about indigenous communities is that we're all really one big family," Martineau said.
The pain and anguish families go through has been displayed and expressed throughout the region with visual stories and gatherings.
"Because we are such a small percentage in the state of Minnesota, even just a few losses are devastating in the community,” Goodrich said.
The Native Lives Matter group came together to remind each other that the missing and murdered indigenous women and relatives have not been forgotten and that action is going to be taken to find them.
“The trainings are a bit extensive. There’s an element in the training for first response, narcan, first response to police, and securing a crime scene. Also working to develop a protocol with law enforcement and breaking barriers in the legislative level with family members seeking justice for their missing loved ones,” Goodrich said.
The training sessions will be taking place Jan. 13 and Feb. 13.
Several other events in honor of Human Trafficking Month will be taking place.
The fourth annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's Memorial March will be taking place Feb. 14 starting at 1:00 p.m. at AICHO.
An RCMP report not only confirmed the over-representation of Indigenous women as murdered and missing in Canada, but the figure of 1181 was nearly double the 600+ figure originally reported by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).