San Francisco Chronicle
Families mark day for victims
ALBUQUERQUE — From the nation’s capitol to Indigenous communities across the American Southwest, top government officials, family members and advocates gathered Wednesday as part of a call to action to address the ongoing problem of violence against Indigenous women and children.
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and other federal officials commemorated the annual day of awareness as a caravan of female motorcycle riders planned to hit the streets in Phoenix, advocates took to social media, and families prepared for a night of candlelight and prayer vigils.
Haaland, the first Native American to lead a U.S. cabinet agency and a former Democratic U.S. representative from New Mexico, recalled hearing families testify about searching for loved ones on their own and bringing a red ribbon skirt to a congressional hearing that represented missing and slain Native Americans.
Indigenous women have been victimized at astonishing rates, with federal figures showing that they — along with nonHispanic Black women — have experienced the highest homicide rates. Yet an Associated Press investigation in 2018 found that nobody knows the precise number of cases of missing and murdered Native Americans nationwide because many go unreported, others aren’t well documented, and no government database specifically tracks them.
President Biden issued a proclamation Tuesday on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. He has promised to bolster resources to address the crisis and better consult with tribes to hold perpetrators accountable.
Haaland said that includes more staffing in a U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs unit dedicated to solving cold cases.