As a tribal coalition, CSVANW does not provide emergency or direct services.  If you are in an unsafe situation or need immediate assistance please dial 911.

Bead work by Phyllis Waukazoo.

By: Phyllis Waukazoo
Diné (Mud Clan & Bitterwater), Sicanju Lakota and Grand Traverse Band of Odawa

This year’s MMIP event at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center was a beautiful safe space for Our MMIP families to gather in prayer and meeting with one goal in mind, Justice for all MMIP. If you ever experienced missing a loved one than attending any community event can be challenging.

I sat in my car debating if I should go in. All these questions started to race through my mind. I kept questioning my being there I kept questioning who will be there? Will there be any angry Indigenous men in attendance with their snide remarks about women? Will people who dislike me be there??? Will this event cause lateral violence among us later?

Would we receive more bad news about a “Task force”? All these negative questions started filling up my mind. I could feel the fire and fury of how much I want JUSTICE for all the families start to take over me again…leaving me alone, guilty and saddened by the real reason we all came together that day leaving me breathless.

I remembered what Dustin; my current life guide will tell me…take a deep breath. The moment I let out that healing breath….a beautifully dressed Tiwa woman came pulling up in a haste and the children followed. I watched them get their signs from their trunk and I knew it was my moment to rejoin the movement.

As I got out to get my sign and closed my car door as lightly as I could….I turned around and greeted her with a hug and I even told her I was having anxiety about going in…. she hugged me tightly and said “Don’t worry we’re here now let’s go in!

The prayer walk was our time to come together as a community and stand united with the families who are currently living and going thru the crisis. With every beat of the drum our prayers were heard from our broken hearts. With each step forward in prayer as a community we gained strength from each other. The leaders of the walk started shouting!

Say their names! Shouts the jean jacket-wearing community worker. What do we want?? Justice shouts the mothers who are missing their daughters every single moment of every excruciating day. When do we want it? NOW shouts the grandmother while she walks with her grandbabies who will someday grow up and seek Justice. It was apparent that our community is not giving up.

After the prayer walk, we were greeted at the entrance of the cultural center with bottles of water, smiles and even hugs from familiar faces from safe spaces.

Before the big meeting with an agenda, there was a beautiful red shawl ceremony, and red fringed shawls were carefully draped over chairs to represent the Missing in our community. Our hearts were comforted by a traditional song dedicated to our missing relatives.

Families and leaders of the community spoke of how they were seeking justice for their relatives and how we should continue to support each other through these processes. Lunch was provided and we were given the time to make new connections and even share our stories on a one and one basis. Having the safe space to connect with other families was most empowering. Hugs and email addresses were exchanged for future coordination of meetings and feast days. New friendships were initiated leaving us all feeling like we’re not alone in this fight.

The second portion of the day was held in the center area of the cultural center. Three sisters collective did a great job of honoring the Missing of our communities by offering song, dance and sharing stories of survival and reclaiming our identity. I found this space most safe for survivors and appreciate the efforts by the three sisters collective and guest experience team at IPCC.

Hoop dancers, Aztec dancers and a Jingle dress dancer offered mesmerizing dances in honor of the missing. We will sing, dance and honor you were the words of the song sung by the woman wearing a black and white checkered scarf as she lead the youth and introduced the dancers and singers. Songs were sung to honor the missing and I was reminded to continue using art, song and dance to honor and help heal myself and my community. A woman with a red hand print painted on her face spoke eloquently about another way our people are coming up missing…thru the foster care system. She spoke of how the system needs to honor ICWA and quit stealing our children. While she spoke her words a woman in the crowd wearing a red shirt and ribbon skirt applauded and shouted yes!

This day was not only about creating awareness for our MMIP that are currently missing but also a time for the community to come together and show each other support. We all have one common goal and that is to continue showing up for our community and support the families of our missing relatives while they seek justice. Appreciation to all the organizations involved in making this event possible for the community.

Related Posts

Child Abuse Prevention Month (2024)

Introduction: Child abuse is a significant concern affecting communities worldwide, including Native American populations. Despite…

ADVISORY May 5th Event for Impacted Families of MMIWR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, April 29, 2024 Contact: Curtison Badonie | [email protected] *** ADVISORY ***…

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center to hold MMIP awareness event – KOB 4 (May 4, 2024)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Tomorrow is national Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. The list…