SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Thousands of Indigenous families across the country still have no answers as to what happened to their loved ones after they went missing or were murdered. It’s a nationwide issue that only began picking up steam with public awareness and legislative action in recent years.
Every year, the country recognizes May 5 as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). It’s a day to remind the public about the deep advocacy prompted by violence, in hopes of healing the genocidal and colonial legacy. Advocacy in every territory prompted tribal leaders and members to develop tools and systems that will allow the invisible to be seen, for the silenced to be heard, and hopefully for the missing to be found and justice to be served to victims’ families.
According to Restoring Ancestral Winds, approximately 84% of Native American women will experience violence at least once in their lifetime. The Urban Indian Health Institute reported Salt Lake City ranks as the ninth highest city in the U.S. for these cases, and Utah ranks as the eighth highest state nationally. The CDC reported violence on the Native American reservation can be up to 10 times higher than the national average.
In Utah, steps are being taken to begin addressing the MMWIG epidemic. Governor Spencer Cox signed H.B. 41, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero and Sen. David Hinkins, which reestablishes the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls task force. However, the progress to address the issue and bridge the gaps will take time, and meanwhile, these families are left to confront the trauma and impact derived from the unspeakable tragedy to their loved ones.
Priscilla Blosser joined ABC4’s Glen Mills to talk about her aunt, who was murdered on Navajo Nation back in January 1984. Blosser, who was named after her late aunt, was also born on the same day as the National Day of Awareness for MMIWG. She discussed what it meant to carry on her aunt’s name and what her birthday now means to her every year. She also shared what she believes are the contributing factors to the epidemic, the impact it’s had on her family to go 37 years without justice, and whether she feels hopeful about the new legislation to address this issue.
Wade and Shanesse Moon, who are siblings and both members of the Skull Valley Band of Goshute General Council, also shared the story of their mom who was murdered in 1998. They talked about the impact of losing their mother when they were just kids, what their experiences have been like in trying to get justice for their mom, how they mother’s case remains unsolved, what they think needs to be done to address this issue, and their thoughts about the recently passed legislation to address the MMIWG epidemic.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Blosser and the Moons, click on the video at the top of the article.
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