Please Take Action April 29-May 5, 2022
By Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO, American Indian College Fund
This week marks the National Week of Action for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. As a Native woman who grew up on the Sicangu Lakota Nation’s homelands on the Rosebud Reservation, and as the President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, I know too well that Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately among the missing and murdered in this country. Even more heartbreaking and important for us to remember is that this issue is not limited to women and girls: boys, men, and Two-Spirit (LGBQT) relatives also are also among the missing and murdered.
Because Native people live the values of kinship and relationships, we are always near one another and have close relationships with other Indigenous people—not just in our communities—but nationwide. As a result of our tight-knit communities and relationships, it is much more likely that we personally know an individual who has gone missing or was found murdered or left to die of exposure. These individuals are members of our families and our communities. They are us and their disappearance and their deaths cause deep grieving and trauma.
Deshawna Anderson, the College Fund’s Pendleton student blanket design winner, dedicated her blanket design, The Courage to Bloom, to murdered and missing Indigenous people. Like Deshawna, I know more than one person from my community and from among my extended relationships who was murdered or disappeared. But whether an individual was missing or murdered, even more traumatizing is knowing that Native people are preyed upon by others because of their identity as Native people.
This is simply unacceptable. We must do all we can to stop this from happening.
As an education organization, the American Indian College Fund can do something about this. We can work with our supporters to create greater awareness of the issue and a plan for greater legal, education, and other resources to address the historical lack of value and visibility of Indigenous people that has fed the problem for too long. By putting an end to this unfathomable cruelty, we can raise the visibility of Indigenous people of all ages, we can promote our inclusion in communities, higher education, and the workplace; and keep our people safe.
The American Indian College Fund invests in education and the visibility of Indigenous people through its scholarship and education programs, its visibility campaign This is Indian Country, and its public education programs that demonstrate how others can support the visibility, equity, and inclusion of Native people nationwide.
We invite and encourage our allies and supporters to learn more about the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous people, to advocate for legislation to track our missing and murdered relatives so they are not forgotten, and to support the creation of mechanisms that inform and shock the American public about this horrific issue that continues today, impacting our families.
We join all our relatives in their grief and loneliness. And we join them to advocate for transformative actions. We invite you to join us.
Please help us creating greater awareness of the murder and disappearance of our relatives. Learn more about the issue and how you can help by checking out events hosted by the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.