HELENA — As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Starting September 7, a missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) billboard will go up on the corner on Warren Street and Helena Avenue, to bring awareness to the issue that many call a crisis or epidemic.
“Indigenous women go missing at such an alarming rate that something has to be done, so I just thought, ‘What skills do I have to offer?’ which was photography,” said Jennifer Buckley.
Buckley, a member of the Chippewa-Cree tribe, is using her photography business to amplify the voices of indigenous women and put a spotlight on the MMIW crisis.
“Well, as an indigenous woman myself, I feel like I'm at least bringing a voice to those women that are missing, I think that it's a small part, but it's a part that's really important and I just want people to know that it's happening, and that we need to pay attention,” said Buckley.
It is an issue that has touched communities across Montana, from our reservations to the main streets in the largest cities.
Buckley has had billboards in Missoula, Billings, Havre, Polson, and Great Falls, making it her mission to bring statewide attention to the MMIW crisis.
“I would love to be able to have one up in every major city and reservation area so that we can have that visual representation of this issue,” said Buckley.
These billboards make people take notice, Buckley says, and that is the point of her project.
“There's power in the picture, that's the whole point of this. It's a visual representation of this issue where people have to stop and go, ‘what does that red handprint mean?’ ‘what is this?’, and then the conversation starts.” said Buckley.
But Buckley needs a business or person to sponsor the billboard to keep it up longer than a few weeks, if you are interested in sponsoring the billboard you can find here contact information here.