Raising Awareness: MMIW

May 5th as a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

Today I want to introduce you to a beautiful soul, Isabella Old Elk. She is Apsaalooké and proud member of the MMIW movement.

As of 2016, the National Crime Information Center has reported 5,712 cases of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls. Strikingly, the U.S Department of Justice’s missing person database has only reported 116 cases.  The majority of these murders are committed by non-Native people on Native-owned land. The lack of communication combined with jurisdictional issues between state, local, and tribal law enforcement, makes it nearly impossible to begin the investigative process. Justice is being obstructed and these issues have been widely ignored, we must raise awareness and stand in solidarity with our Indigenous siblings. For far too long the Indigenous community has been abused and their needs have been ignored and we must include this work as part of our Social Justice work.

We are all equally worthy, necessary, worthy of being seen, appreciated, and celebrated. We all have significant and unique contributions to offer in this life experience, and no human being can validate us; we are validated in our existence. The life-giving presence created us, and that sustains our life is the only validation we will ever need to know our worth. We do not collectively have the right to determine whether or not someone is deserving of anything. Your rights and power are in our existence, and we each have an equal measure of it. It’s time that we realize how much we stand in the way of the equality and abundance we all deeply desire for ourselves. I believe we can come to common goals on how to interact with one another that upholds the value of one another’s existence, removes the boxes, and allows everyone to be seen and appreciated for their gift.

Here are my recommendations on getting the most out of this interview and any conversation with someone who is sharing their life experience and perspective with you. 

  • When someone shares, thank them for the gift of their experience and perspective. It is a gift that will help you see the world we live in in a more expanded way.
  • Hold this information with the same weight as your experience. See it as equally important and valid. Being dismissive of someone else’s life is an act of self supremacy.
  • Resist the inclination to compare what you hear to your own life experience. Doing this centers you. Instead, practice empathy by centering who is speaking, feeling that person’s pain, and seeing their experience happening in real-time in your mind’s eye as if it were you. Stay engaged with what you are feeling; write it down.

After the interaction, it is time for the inner-work. 

  1. Review yourself honestly and sincerely. 
    1. How might you have participated willingly or unconsciously in behavior that has similarly harmed another individual? Have you been indifferent to the suffering of others? Dig deep. There is no shame, only acknowledgment and awareness. 
  2. Work to transmute any guilt you may feel to motivation so that you don’t continue the behavior. Below are some questions that will help helo you transform guilt into motivation and purpose.
    1. What excuses have you made or do you want to make to justify your behavior. 
    2. How have you centered yourself and devalued others? 
    3. How have you grouped and sorted, and boxed in people for your comfort, denying them the ability to be seen and heard and appreciated? 
    4. What are the excuses you make for that? 
    5. How can you see every person like an extended member of your family so that care for their existence can be the motivation for our interactions? 
    6. Make a commitment to transforming your behaviors and share your commitments with someone who can help hold you accountable.
    7. Live out the change, talk about the change and become the change. You will inspire others to do the same.
    8. What can you do to raise awareness and create change around this issue in particular? How can you learn more?

For more information visit the following websites: https://www.nativewomenswilderness.org/mmiw https://www.tiktok.com/@isabellaoldelk http://itstartswithus-mmiw.com/ https://www.nativewomenssociety.org/mmiw https://mmiwresources.carrd.co/

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