BOZEMAN - Dozens gathered in front of American Indian Hall at Montana State University on Thursday to spread awareness for National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Awareness Day.
It was a day full of events, including a self-guided tour, a panel with family members of missing and murdered individuals, a prayer walk, and a healing dance. The sound of drums rang through Centennial Mall, as many adorned themselves in red—in solidarity with the victims and those missing.
In addition to the events was the newly re-established MMIP (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons) Student Association. Kola Bad Bear and Maleeya Knows His Gun are the co-presidents of this organization and hope to extend awareness past a day.
“Remember their names, say their names,” Knows His Gun said. “I've met so many students that don’t know what MMIP is, don’t know that it’s a thing, same thing with the community of Bozeman and the country as a whole.”
WATCH: MMIP Day Prayer Walk at MSU
According the U.S. Census, Native Americans represent 6.6 percent of the population in Montana, yet make up about 25 percent of the missing person reports.
“The topic today is really just to get a further understanding for those that don’t understand, and those just hearing about this movement,” Bad Bear said, “Share a post, as simple as that, and reach out if you want to learn more!”
The MMIP Student Association hopes to put on programming throughout the year, including self-defense classes for the students of MSU, and organize more events for next year's Day of Awareness.
“Maybe we can do more, and then maybe someone in the community will want to make a true nonprofit out of that, and taking more steps towards that,” Bad Bear said.