Events planned for National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Americans


Submitted by Carolyn DeFord, Human Trafficking Project Coordinator


In response to the 2013 murder of Hannah Harris, a congressional resolution was introduced in 2016 petitioning to have May 5th designated as a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. The resolution was initially passed in 2017 and has been reaffirmed every year since.


In 2019 President Trump signed a new proclamation which acknowledged all genders and declared May 5th as Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Native Awareness Day.


The Puyallup Tribe passed their own resolution in 2018 declaring May 5 as Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Americans.


Our sisters in some tribal communities are taken from us at a rate that is more than 10 times the national average. According to one CDC report, murder is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women between the ages of 10-24 and the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native men between the ages of 10-34. In 2020 the National Crime Information Center reported that there were 5,295 reported missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, and 4,276 missing American Indian and Alaska Native men.


A National Day of Awareness helps ensure needed changes in policies and laws are always being addressed but most importantly that our missing and murdered relatives are honored and remembered. As a result, Savanna’s Act and The Not Invisible Act were passed to address this issue. Savanna’s Act is named for 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a member of the Spirit Lake Tribe who was eight months pregnant and found in the Red River near the North Dakota-Minnesota border. Savanna’s Act will require the Department of Justice to strengthen training, coordination, data collection and other practices related to cases of missing or murdered Native Americans. The Not Invisible Act intends to increase coordination efforts to reduce violence against Native Americans. It mandates the Department of Interior to designate an official in the BIA to coordinate prevention efforts, grants, and programs related to missing, murdered, and trafficked Native Americans. The two complimenting bills are the result of years of activism and advocacy to protect Native people.


Join the Community Domestic Violence Advocacy Program for a week of action and workshops to raise awareness and support families of Missing and Murdered Native American’s May 2-8.


Imagine if your loved one did not come home. What would you do? How would you make sure everyone, everywhere knew to look for them? This is where we, as a community can help. We will kick off the week on May 3 with a call-to-action community poster campaign and canvas our communities with posters to help find our missing relatives. We’ve planned a week of awareness, action, and healing including the faceless doll workshop, red dress pin workshop, special guests, talking circle, and a MMIWR community walk.


Don’t forget to wear red on May 5 or hang a red dress outside your home or business to honor and acknowledge all who have gone missing or been lost to violence. Watch for more information about events at www.puyalluptribe-nsn.gov.


For more information email Carolyn DeFord, Trafficking Project Coordinator at the Community Domestic Violence Advocacy Program at Carolyn.DeFord@puyalluptribe-nsn.gov.