Native American Festival Raises Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
The festival runs through November 17 at the Fargo Public Library downtown
FARGO, N.D. — A Native American Festival running through November 17 at the Fargo Public Library downtown is not just educating the public about all things related to Indian Country.
It’s also tackling an issue impacting reservations across the country with a panel on missing and murdered indigenous women.
Whitney Fear, one of the panelists, says the rate at which indigenous women go missing and or are murdered has been an issue since 1492.
“Whenever Columbus and the first Europeans arrived to the United States. They would take indigenous women back to Europe as slaves and sold indigenous women to other sailors and ships,” Fear said.
Because they are still missing and murdered to this day, Fear says it’s important to keep a dialogue going. She says it’s the only way to eventually see some changes, especially in policy.
Fear says the United States doesn’t even have a database which can maintain and monitor exactly how many Native American adults are missing.
“We’re the only racial demographic that’s true for,” Fear said.
It’s part of the reason she’s raising her voice and educating others about missing and murdered indigenous women.
Other panelists not only recognize how important it is to do so, but they’re also speaking up because how much it hits close to home.
“I as a parent, I am more fearful, of my daughters being abused or going missing because they are more likely for something significant like that to happen than their friends who are non–native,” said Audra Stone Fish, one of the four panelists.
Fear says part of the reason that hold true is because populations like Indian Country who have less access to services have more poverty stricken areas tend to be seen as more vulnerable.
Within the past year, the spotlight has been placed on two indigenous women who were murdered, including Savanna Greywind and Olivia Lone Bear.
“Because we have the spotlight on that topic right now, and this crisis right now, that we should take that for what it is and build on that momentum to kind of create a different way that we look and address these issues,” Stone Fish said.
Because if people don’t make some noise, she says it’ll have a huge consequence.
“We will see it retract and we will see it once again being swept under the rug,” Stone Fish said.
Fargo has a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women task force which was started in September 2017.