No more stolen sisters: Red dresses memorialize missing and murdered women

By Lisa Pemberton, Puyallup Tribal News editor

Bright red dresses lightly danced in the trees outside of the Puyallup Tribe’s Administration Building along Portland Avenue on May 5.  Each dress represented a missing or murdered indigenous woman, as if waiting in her place until she returns home. 

The emotional display was created by the Tribe’s Community Domestic Violence Advocacy Program to commemorate Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Americans.

More than four in five Native women (84.3 percent) have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice. And women in some tribal communities are more than 10 times more likely to be murdered than the national average, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Wearing red in support

Many Puyallup Tribal members, including the Tribal Council and administrative staff, also wore red on May 5 to mark the solemn occasion and call attention to missing and murdered people throughout Indian Country.

“The statistics are alarming and unacceptable,” Chairman David Z. Bean posted on Facebook. “Our tribal communities are impacted with very little attention or reporting. …We demand change. Stand with us. Protect our women, protect our girls, protect our communities.”

Red dress display photos by Lisa Pemberton. Additional photos courtesy of Puyallup Tribal members Carolyn DeFord, Monica Miller, Annette Bryan and David Z. Bean