I would like to thank all of you for attending tonight’s vigil for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Friends and family members of victims, advocates, legislators, judges, tribal citizens, allies, and those who have traveled from far away for tonight, thank you for coming to hear our voices on this crisis that is sweeping across Indian tribes and North America.
The purpose of our vigil tonight is twofold. First, we want to bring attention to this crisis that has a significant impact on our tribal nations. Second, we want this vigil to be a healing time for those who are left with the physical, emotional, and spiritual scars from this crisis and to remember and honor our lost sisters.
In the United States, American Indian and Alaska Native women have to constantly look over their shoulders to make sure they are safe in their own communities. Today in 2018, American Indian and Alaska Native women experience a rate of homicide that is 10 times above the national average in some counties. It is undeniable that our sisters face one of the highest rates of murder in the United States.
When a Native woman goes missing or is murdered, not only is she harmed, but her family, friends, and community are left devastated by the loss of her life. Sometimes those she has left behind search for years for answers, with little help from local authorities. Many times, tribes do not have the resources or even the jurisdiction to investigate their cases. The families of victims have no resources or services to turn to in their time of need.
The epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls must stop, we as Native women, advocates, leaders, legislators, and allies must take action to guarantee that no other woman is taken from this world before the Creator is ready to greet her.
Tonight we gather together in this place to create a sacred space to help heal our sisters, our mothers, our aunties, our daughters, and all of our relatives who have been impacted by the loss of an important Native woman in their life. We seek to remember who these women and girls were and honor their memory as we go forward from this place.
I pray that through our ceremonies and songs tonight we will help comfort each other and renew our spirts to keep searching for answers and to protect the next generation from this crisis. So that our daughters, granddaughters, and great granddaughters can live in a world where there will be no need for them to constantly look over their shoulder just to stay safe as all of us have done and must still do today. It is time for healing. It is time for a change.