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Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day marked in Western MT

Arlee MMIW March
Posted at 4:50 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 11:16:41-04

ARLEE — Wednesday marks National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day, a day designated by Congress in 2017.

The day marks the silent crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and girls in the US -- including in Montana.

Numbers compiled by the Blackfeet Community College in regards to the MMIW crisis show there are over 1,100 tribes in Canada and the US with eight Tribal Nations located in Montana.

Statistics show 84% of Indigenous women have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in their lifetime. Additionally, Native American are four time more likely to go missing in the State of Montana

Several vigils are planned to mark the day including one on Wednesday evening at the University of Montana.

Meanwhile, a ceremony was held earlier in the day in Arlee where high school students were walking along US Highway 93 wearing red and honoring the missing.

Dozens of people took part in the event including former Arlee student Laurencia Starblanket. “It's really disheartening to see the families go through such a hard time. They don't know, they don't have answers."

Starblanket says she's been working to raise awareness since she was a student at Arlee High School, “every day for a month, we would wear our ribbon skirts to school, or ribbon shirts, whatever we could to show our Native pride."

Now, she says watching the next generation continue that, brings her hope, “growing into my adult life, and seeing the youth continue to do empowering things."

Arlee High School student Shannon Haworth told MTN News she walks for her friends, and their families, “Jermain's related to a lot of us around here, and she still hasn't been found."

Haworth says missing woman Jermain Charlo is one of many stories impacting Arlee, “it's the reality around here."

That's why she walked and then stayed after the walk, filling parking lot cracks for the Red Sand project, for the second time.

"We did this last year, we had pretty much all of the cracks in the parking lot,” Haworth explained.

It was another way Arlee is bringing awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis.

"I hope that more women are brought home, and more cases are brought to justice, and that these families start to get answers throughout the whole Indian Country."

Starblanket encourages everyone to do their own research into the MMIW crisis.