“The loss of these women affects our communities greatly. Each and every one of them left behind family, loved ones and in many cases children.” ~Denise Stonefish
We pass along this message from our friends at the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center…According to the Sovereign Bodies Institute, over 50 indigenous women and girls went missing in the state of Montana in 2018. Indigenous women and girls make up around 3% to 4% of the population in the state but are around 30% of those deemed missing by the Montana Department of Justice. 97% of perpetrators of violent crime against indigenous women were non-native as found by the National Justice Institute. This is not just a reservation problem; urban areas such as Missoula and Billings have some of the highest cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Billings is ranked fifth in the nation for MMIWG cases, as stated by the Urban Health Institute. In response to this crisis, The Missoula Urban Indian Health Center (MUIHC), in partnership with the Missoula Human Trafficking Task Force, are committed to addressing this human rights issue.
Historically, red is the color associated with MMIWG awareness. August 10th is the “Rock Your Rodeo Red” MMIWG event at the PRCA Rodeo at the Western Montana Fair Grounds. Show your support for MMIWG families and survivors by purchasing an Indian Taco at the MUIHC booth and a Rock Your Rodeo Red t-shirt at the MUIHC informational booth. The support of the Western Montana Fair will enable MUIHC and the Missoula Human Trafficking Task Force to reach a broad audience of all Montanans who may be unaware of the severity of the MMIWG issue.
This event will include an honoring drum song, a color guard of flags from all Montana tribes, and a procession of families impacted by the crisis. Please join us as we honor the lives and legacies of these indigenous women and girls.
“…And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” – concluding words of the Declaration of Independence
Today we celebrate its 243rd “Independence Day” with fireworks and flag-waving. While there is much to celebrate in the birth of our nation and the ideals of liberty and freedom that are the foundation of our constitution, much of the celebrating has become an exercise in glorifying war – the songs, the armored vehicles on parade, the military shows of strength and glory. War is unfortunately a part of our heritage as a nation, but there is so much more to celebrate, and other ways to serve. As long as we glorify war and perpetuate the view that no other service to country is as honorable or heroic as becoming a part of the military killing machine, we will continue to have wars and our sons and daughters will continue to seek the paths we so glorify.
The closing words of the Declaration of Independence call us to pledge our support for each other as we work together to make this country better. We at JRPC have called this day “Interdependence” day. Instead of glorifying war, let us think about and honor the indigenous Americans we displaced, the countries and peoples around the world we share this earth with, the earth itself and all our fellow creatures, the millions of immigrants that make our country rich with diversity, the neighbors we share our communities with, the civil servants who work hard with few rewards and all the heroes who worked and died to protect the human and civil rights of all of us. Let us celebrate those who serve our country in compassion and generosity – true to the spirit of liberty and justice for all. When I lift my red, white and blue, it will be for all of you…Betsy
“Bless the poets, the workers for justice, the dancers of ceremony, the singers of heartache, the visionaries, all makers and carriers of fresh meaning—we will all make it through, despite politics and wars, despite failures and misunderstandings. There is only love.” ~Joy Harjo, first Native American US Poet Laureate
It seems the US and Iran are on a collision path to war even though public sentiment and reason lean the other direction. While no war is good — they all bring destruction, death and a difficult path to healing — war with the possibility of a nuclear component is certain devastation. 74 years ago next month, the world said, “Never again”. And today, with unending wars we cannot resolve, over 70 million people already displaced by conflict and a national deficit we cannot sustain, those words must ring out loud and far. I echo the words of Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo and bless all those workers for justice and fresh meaning — all those who will see us through. In one week, the nation will celebrate our founding. Let us look as a nation toward love and peace. We are planning to host an event on July 3 to give us a chance to gather in blessing to ring out the words “Never again” again. Please call us or watch our facebook page for details. And let us know your ideas. In the meantime, you can take action by:
“A good story is like a compass, it points to something true and invites us to orient our own direction according to it and perhaps to live a little better.” ~Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen
Dr. Remen reminds us that it is the stories we hear that show us the way forward and challenge us to live a little better. This Saturday, we will be celebrating the stories of our peacemakers, our youth, the musicians in our community and each other. We have a special opportunity to learn about peace from Denis Matveev who is joining us from his work in Europe as a Peace Broker with the Crisis Management Initiative. This group was founded in 2000 by Nobel Peace laureate and former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari and is now one of the leading organisations in its field with a staff of around 70 and ongoing commitments in the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. This is a rare opportunity for us in Missoula and I hope you can join us.
In fact, the whole day will be filled with peace. There will be a couple food vendors so you can purchase food. And Fernanda and Robert are offering a portion of all beverages sold to support Nonviolent Peaceforce, a great way for our celebration to do more good in the world. Below is the schedule for the day. I hope you can join us…Betsy
10:30 am-12 noon: Living Rhythm Community Drum Circle with Matthew Nord & Dave Robertson from Tangled Tones
12-2 pm : Imagine Ireland Irish Circle
1:30-2:30 pm : Strategic Peacebuilding Workshop w/ Denis Matveev senior advisor from The Crisis Management Initiative (CMI Peace Broker), an independent Finnish organisation that works to prevent and resolve violent conflicts through informal dialogue and mediation.
3-3:45 pm : Congolese Choir and Fr. Jim Hogan Search For Peace Youth Award. The award will be announced at the event. Nominees include:
- Allison Moran, a 6-year-old kindergartner at Jeannette Rankin School who epitomizes kindness and caring by volunteering in the community, looking at the positive in every situation, going out of her way to help others and pay it forward and spreading love everywhere she goes
- Cecilia Spencer, a 4th grader who is active in the constant effort to promote justice and harmony
- Kara Good, Blake Lindemer and Emma Stevenson, from Seeley Lake who are bravely spreading awareness about discrimination, injustice and environmental issues;
- The Youth Group from University Congregational United Church of Christ who are active in a broad spectrum of social justice issues such as food insecurity, homelessness and Native American reservation issues — Clara Hahn, Adam Hahn, Josie Firehammer, Helen McGeary, Keira Skovlin, George Cassens, Rowan Welch, Skye Welch, Gabriel Hendrix, Grace Cassens (Youth Leader) and Karin Clark Cassens (Youth Director)
- Lily & Maizy Miller, middle school sisters who started businesses to raise money for girls to go to school in Nepal and Malawi
3:45-5 pm : Montana Women’s Chorus Missoula provides music and the Missoula Peace Quilters present the Peace Award to Fernanda M.B. Krum and Robert Rivers
5:30-8 pm : Live Music w/ Good Old Fashioned and time to mingle with our peacemakers and each other and celebrate all that we have to inspire us!
2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in World War I. This war and the many before and after have left indelible marks on our country, our people, our military and our societal structure.
The 1918 armistice brought hopes of world peace after the “war to end all wars,” and Armistice Day was soon designated as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated.” Congress rebranded this day as Veterans Day in the 1950’s, and as time went on, it changed from a day of remembrance and peace to a day to celebrate militarism.