Grand Traverse Band recognizes Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day

From staff reports

On May 5, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians observes “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day.” This is a day to remember those who have been murdered, and those who are still missing, particularly Native women and children. This day is set aside to recognize and help mitigate the disproportionate level of violence experienced by Native Americans and to bring awareness to the community, and our local, state, and federal partners to reaffirm the need to address this ongoing crisis.

The program at the Grand Traverse Band headquarters in Peshawbestown, north of Suttons Bay in Leelanau County, begins at noon with a prayer and fire lighting, featuring guest speakers and red garments hung in remembrance; drumming dancing will commence at 12:30, with community speakers, and light food provided; a closing prayer is at 3 p.m. In remembrance of one’s MMIP family member, tribal members are encouraged to reach out to Rachel Ribeiro and share a photo.

More than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native men and women (83 percent) have experienced a form of violence in their lifetime—whether it be physical violence and/or psychological aggression from an intimate partner, sexual violence, or stalking—according to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). In addition, more than 1.5 million American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime per a NIJ-funded study.

This crisis is not new. Indigenous peoples have faced violence and the tragedy of a missing or murdered loved one for generations. The negative impact of that trauma continues to affect Indigenous communities across the United States today.

Grand Traverse Band recognizes the Biden Administration for directing Federal agencies to improve public safely and criminal justice for Indigenous peoples. “Native Americans have disproportionately suffered from many forms of violence,” said Hope MacDonald Lone Tree, the deputy commissioner at the Administration for Native Americans. “These public service announcements are crucial for creating awareness of resources for Indigenous peoples who are survivors of violence and will help to protect and heal Indigenous peoples and their communities.”

President Biden’s Executive Order on Improving Public Safety and Criminal Justice for Native Americans and Addressing the Crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP), published on November 15, 2021, acknowledges that “Native Americans face unacceptably high levels of violence, and are victims of violent crime at a rate much higher than the national average.” The president specifically highlights that Native American women are disproportionately the victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

Greater awareness and attention to the crisis and consideration of the root causes of the disproportionate murders and missing persons in the Indigenous communities are needed to confront the issues of economic disparity, substance use, domestic violence, and other violent crimes.

On May 5, 2023, the Grand Traverse Band sets aside a day of remembering and bringing awareness, to the Northern Michigan area specifically, to work together to build a safer community.