Community to Host Inaugural Run & Walk to Bring Awareness on Crimes Against Indigenous People
Gila River Indian News
The Community Council has officially declared May 5 as the Gila River Indian Community’s Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP). This year, the Community will host its inaugural MMIP Virtual Awareness Walk/ Run to commemorate the day.
The Walk/Run, is set for May 5 abnd is virtual and will require participants to track their route and submit photo proof of completion. Participants are to complete 1.5 miles – or a half a mile for elders – to receive their commemorative MMIP T-Shirt designed by renowned Native American artist Bunky Echohawk. Since the event is virtual, participants are to complete their route at home or using any safe route they choose.
The event and proclamation acknowledge the tragic statistics affecting indigenous women throughout the country. Sometimes referred to as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, the movement efforts have become more prevalent in the state of Arizona and GRIC.
Lt. Gov. Monica Antone has been a leader on the MMIP issue locally and throughout the state as an advocate. Lt. Gov. Antone serves as a tribal representative with numerous grassroots and state-level organizations addressing the MMIP issue facing all of Indian Country.
“I am honored and proud that this came forward and will be recognized in our Community from this day on,” said Lt. Gov. Antone, who added that she feels the proclamation will mean a lot for families who do not have closure after having lost a loved one under such difficult circumstances.
Lt. Gov. Antone also called the addition of the walk and run a way to provide healing as a community by coming together to recognize the issue and concerns of MMIP.
“Run in honor of those that are missing,” said Lt. Gov. Antone, “for that missing heartbeat of a loved one and for families to find healing.”
Last year, GRIC became the home site for the U.S. Western Region Operation Lady Justice Task Force. This task force consists of federal agents assigned to missing and murdered cold cases that remain unsolved. Additionally, in 2019, the state passed House Bill 2570 to provide inter-agency collaboration and a study on how to address MMIP and gather data on MMIP cases.
“I am proud the Community was selected as the location for the Regional Cold Case office. This cold case unit is the only unit co-located within a tribal police department in the United States. I look forward to working with Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as she makes addressing our missing and murdered Native Americans a priority under her leadership,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, indigenous women in some tribal communities face murder rates more than 10 times the national average. Furthermore, indigenous people, including men and children, are 2.5 times more likely to experience violent crimes and at least twice as likely to experience rape or sexual assault compared to any other group in the U.S.
To sign up for the MMIP Virtual Awareness Walk/ Run, visit mygilariver.com for online registration, or can call Alie Walk Badger at 520-562-9713 or you can Shannon Redbird at 520-562-9859.