“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” ~Malala Yousafzai
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, who we will honor this next Monday talked often about building beloved community, where everyone matters and truly cares about and works for the welfare of all. Thanks to the courage of many indigenous women, we are learning about an epidemic that must be addressed in our communities so we can move the needle a little closer to “beloved”. Native American women and girls around the country are disappearing and being murdered at an alarming rate — 5,712 reports in 2016, which begs the question — “how many remain un-reported?” Even more disturbing is the reality that these cases rarely are reported in the media, are more slowly responded to by law enforcement if ever and are subject to victim-blaming and other descriptions that perpetuate negative stereotypes. Montana is one of the states most affected. However, in Montana and across the nation, the voices of Indigenous people have united to raise awareness of this issue. And in 2017, the Urban Indian Health Institute in Washington state began a study aimed at assessing the demographics of these cases in cities across the United States.
This Saturday, while women across the nation march, Missoula has the opportunity to make our voices powerful by supporting the local Native American women who have organized a vigil to shine a light on the issues that keep them in harms way. As long as they remain victimized and we remain unaware and uneducated, we are not yet “beloved”. I believe Dr. King’s spirit will be with us on Saturday from 12 noon to 2 pm on the UM Oval and I hope you will be as well. Look for the JRPC banner and come stand with us…Betsy