Qawalangin Tribe Brings Awareness To Missing And Murdered Native Women And Girls

May 5, 2020

Shayla Shaishnikoff, Camp Qungaayux Coordinator, and tribal member Maddy Castillo stand outside the tribe's office with a sign that says "No more stolen sisters" and "Never forgotten," along with a drawing inspired by a Alaska artist Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn.
Credit Courtesy of the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska

May 5 is National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The missing and murdered Native women epidemic is an issue currently affecting Indigenous people in the United States, Canada, and around the world. 

In the U.S., there is no official federal database on the issue, and many members of the movement argue that law enforcement has not done enough to investigate Indigenous women who've gone missing. 

The little available data is grim: according to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly half of all Native American women have experienced intimate partner violence, and on some reservations, women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average.

"As a Native American man, and a son of a Native American woman, I cannot express the heartfelt sorrow of what is happening to our Native American women and children," said Tom Robinson, tribal president of the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska. "We should have questions for commissioners of states and the federal government about the resources and priorities of them addressing this horrific atrocity. One could view this as an attack against our cultures. I do. I only ask that the local, state, and federal governments act with extreme urgency to address these crimes against humanity and put a permanent end to this nightmare. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families of this epidemic."

Indigenous activists and other nonprofits have created a movement in the U.S., working to raise awareness of the issue through organized marches, community meetings, the building of databases, and domestic violence training for police. 

While in-person events aren't happening because of the coronavirus, many will wear red to remember the women and girls affected by the epidemic. The goal is to honor those who have been lost, and hold people in power accountable for investigating those losses.

The Qawalangin Tribe chose to spread awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls by starting a Facebook campaign. 

"We have a Facebook post up stating that for everyone who posts a picture wearing red in our comment section with the hashtag #nomorestolensisters, we will donate $5 per person to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women," said Shayla Shaishnikoff, Camp Qungaayux Coordinator. 

Unalaskans can submit photos of themselves wearing red to the tribe's Facebook page until end-of-day Wednesday.