Missing Murdered Women May5
Missing Murdered Women May5

Tribe Designates May 5th National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls

May 1, 2017

AKWESASNE — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe will be recognizing the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls on Friday, Onerahtohkó:wa/May 5, 2017; pursuant to Tribal Council Resolution (TCR) 2017-23 signed by the Tribal Council on Onerahtókha/April 23, 2017. Community events have been scheduled for Friday, to help educate and raise awareness, as well as to commemorate the lives of missing and murdered women and girls.

“As we move ahead into the future as Native communities, we must never forget those that we have lost along the way,” said Tribal Sub-Chief Michael Conners, who sponsored TCR 2017-23 after returning from Washington, DC where discussions took place on federal legislation to designate May 5th as a national day. Sub-Chief Conners added, “More must be done nationally, but in the meantime, I commend our community’s own efforts, led by the Seven Dancers Coalition and the Three Sisters Program in helping to address domestic violence, sexual assault and increase the safety of women and girls in Akwesasne.”

On Enníska/February 15, 2017, Sub-Chief Conners attended a congressional briefing in cooperation with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that was convened by the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the Indian Law Resource Center. The event included an overview from Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) of a resolution (S. Res. 60) he introduced into the U.S. Senate, along with Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), in July 2016 to designate May 5th as National Day for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

Tribal Council expressed its support for the federal resolution by passage of the same in TCR 2017-23; which calls for education and public awareness on May 5th to demonstrate solidarity with the families continuing to deal with the loss of a loved one. As a result, the Seven Dancers Coalition and the Tribe’s Three Sisters Program have been working in cooperation to plan a community event, which includes encouraging folks to “Wear RED to Remember” on Friday to commemorate the victims.

“This event is an important step in our community-wide effort to acknowledge the grief and loss of our families living through all types of adversity,” shared Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. She noted, “We are also acutely aware of the devastated families who have missing and murdered sons, who have not found closure to their heartache.”

Plans for May 5th begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Seven Dancers Coalition, located at 352 State Route 37 (former-Burning Sky Office Products), with a showing of the movie “Highway of Tears” and guest speaker Chantel Henderson, a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women advocate. It will be followed by a talking circle for the sharing of ideas and thoughts before breaking for lunch, sponsored by the Tribe.

“May 5th will be an opportunity to help educate and restore traditional values into our families, so that every Native woman and girl can live a life free of violence,” shared Seven Dancers Coalition Director Amie Barnes. She added, “We are asking community members and other to participate in this action campaign to recognize the victims and to bring awareness to the issue of Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls to a wider audience.”

In the afternoon, at 1:00 p.m., the public is invited to a tobacco burning and offering at Gray Street (near the Hogansburg Bridge); an honor song performed by NAMMY award-winning musician Bear Fox, remarks from Tribal Chiefs Ron LaFrance and Beverly Cook, and to take part in a memorial butterfly release to follow.

In designating May 5th a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls, Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance stated “It's unfortunate that we need a day to commemorate in order to bring attention to murdered and missing Native women and girls. It's good that the government has issued a statement that we have been asking for years, but it may not bring closure to all the families and communities that are affected by this very sensitive issue.”

Remember to “Wear RED to Remember” on Friday, May 5th and join us in recognizing the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

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The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is the duly elected and federally recognized government of the Saint Regis Mohawk People.