A missing Native American girl, who is from Browning and recently made national news, is close to home yet far away. Browning is less than 2 hours drive from the Flathead Valley, yet it’s located in the Blackfeet Indian reservation with a sovereign government and it’s own law enforcement.
It may be easy for you to say that this crisis is “someone else’s problem” or “I don’t live on the Rez” or “that’s not my community.”
But this isn’t happening to a tribe of Native Americans. It is happening to a tribe of women.
The instances of the missing women in this article affect a population of women that experience some of the highest rates of murder, sexual violence, and domestic abuse.
The statistics of violence against Native American women are staggering:
- They account for 30% of missing girls and women in Montana even though they only represent 3.3% of the state’s population.
- They are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average.
- More than half have experienced sexual violence at some point.
- More than 80% experience violence in their lifetimes.
Their background may cause them to be particularly vulnerable, but they are still part of a greater tribe of women.
Predators don’t target them because they are Native American. They target them because they are a particularly vulnerable population of women.
They are also women with family members who love them so much that they are willing to search hundreds of acres to find the answers to what happened to them.
They are women whose lives have value. Their lives have value, and the people responsible for their disappearance didn’t respect what they are worth.
This is what it looks like when women lose that power. It looks like a person who has no respect for her life. It looks like a heartbreaking loss of potential, and it looks like a grieving family searching for answers.
And while it may take time for these women to get the justice they deserve that doesn’t mean that we can’t grow stronger and protect others in our tribe of women.
Your tribe of women depends on you. Make yourself stronger and you make the women around you stronger. Make the women around you stronger, and you will impact countless lives.