Native Women: Sing Your Songs of Strength

This Week, Join First Nations in Saying Enough is Enough

“This crisis of MMIW has deep roots in colonization and genocide and can be attributed to the lack of legal protections as a result of the systematic erosion of tribal sovereignty stretching back more than 500 years.”

-National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

“No more stolen sisters” and “Remember her name” is the sentiment throughout Indian Country – everyday. The week of May 1 to 7, National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and on National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Women on May 5, we bring special attention to this national epidemic and create awareness to protect our sacred women and two-spirit sisters who face violence and murder at an astounding rate.

Why do our mothers, aunties, daughters, friends, and women relatives disappear at frequencies 10x higher than the national average? Why is homicide the third leading cause of death among Native girls and women aged 10 to 24, and the fifth leading cause of death for Native women aged 25 to 34? Why are we still fighting this battle 500+ years later? Why Native women?

The answer is simple – colonizers have long ensured the demise of Indigenous women. The need to protect our life-givers and two-spirit sisters started with contact. From abduction, to rape, murder, assimilation, and finally patriarchy, the founding fathers and imperialists who came to this country gave way to this plague through their actions and dehumanization of Indigenous people.

If you no longer want a community to survive – you kill the women. You make sure life can no longer grow. The loss of our sacred women, their uprooting, has created an imbalance to our Mother Earth and universe. And when the people who colonized women continue to perpetuate their disdain for them, it is hard to achieve that balance.

Native women will persevere

But the colonizers were not prepared for our determination of spirit and our tenacious hearts. It has been said that we have survived more than one apocalypse, but it is only with the strength of our women.

This is why we must create a safe space for our daughters and their daughters to grow up in. We must hold our policy makers and representatives accountable. This crisis must end, and it won’t if the perpetrators continue to get away with violence and murder with impunity.

This is not the legacy we want to leave our future generations. We do not want to be a statistic. We do not want to be on a poster. We do not want to be another stolen sister! We want our daughters to grow up to be beautiful women warriors like the ancestors and relatives before them. We want their glory and magnificence to inspire the world. And we want their perseverance and resiliency to live on through their daughters, and their daughters’ daughters.

As Indigenous peoples we will continue to fight for our women and two-spirt relatives because enough is enough! And we have had enough.

What We’re Up Against —  Statistics from Native Women’s Wilderness

  • Indigenous Women (girls +) are murdered at rates 10 times higher than all other ethnicities.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, murder is the 3rd leading cause of death for Indigenous Women.
  • According to the National Institute of Justice Report, more than 4 out of 5 Indigenous Women have experienced violence (84.3%).
  • More than half of Indigenous Women experience sexual violence (56.1%).
  • More than half of Indigenous Women have been physically abused by their intimate partners (55.5 percent).
  • Almost half of Indigenous Women have been stalked in their lifetime (48.8 percent).
  • Indigenous women are 1.7 times more likely than Anglo-American women to experience violence.
  • Indigenous women are two times more likely to be raped than Anglo-American white women.
  • Murder rates of Indigenous Women is three times higher than Anglo-American women.

The Old Ones say the Native American women will lead the healing among the tribes. Inside them are the powers of love and strength given by the Moon and the Earth. When everyone else gives up, it is the women who sings the songs of strength. She is the backbone of the people. So, to our women we say, sing your songs of strength; pray for your special powers; keep our people strong; be respectful, gentle, and modest.

-Lakota Medicine Man

Marisa Page
First Nations Development Officer