Missing and murdered Indigenous women honored during walk in Shiprock
SHIPROCK — Christelle Tsosie's mouth was covered by a painted red hand and she held a sign that stated, "No More Stolen Sisters."
The red hand symbolizes solidarity for missing and murdered Indigenous women, an issue that brought Tsosie to participate in a walk on May 5 to remember and honor the women.
"Native women are sacred," Tsosie said.
President Joe Biden signed a proclamation for May 5, declaring it "Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day."
Biden's action is among those in recent years by federal leaders to focus on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. While women and girls remains the anchor, the issue has developed to include all Native people.
The U.S. Department of Justice reported that, in tribal communities, Native American women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average.
"Domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking occur at crisis levels for Native women," the department reported.
The memorial honor walk was organized by the American Indian Movement Diné Bí Kéyáh.
John Franklin, a member of the group, said the walk builds on the group's work to address MMIW and other social issues in tribal communities.
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"It has to be done," Franklin said about sharing the message.
Officers from the Navajo Police Department helped control traffic and the captain of the Shiprock District visited with participants.
Franklin said the captain wants to meet with the group to talk further about MMIW and other concerns.
The walk started at the motor pool building on U.S. Highway 64 then proceeded west into Shiprock.
When participants arrived at the intersection of highways 64 and 491, they stood with signs and flags. Several motorists honked vehicle honks when passing.
Lorita Jim-Sneak held two signs that called to honor Native women and justice for missing Indigenous people.
She held the sign highlighting justice for all because she views the issue as encompassing all missing people.
"We're supporting others who are not here. We're their voices to be heard out here," Jim-Sneak said adding that if the message is not shared, the problem will persist.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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