Hanna Harris, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, was murdered in July 2013. Courtesy photo
Bill introduced in memory of Hanna Harris
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor
WASHINGTON— The delegation of lawmakers from the state of Montana have introduced legislation into congress that would create a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.
U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke introduced last month a resolution
[H.Res.807 | S.Res.514]
that would designate May 5, 2017, as National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls in memory of the birthday of Hanna Harris, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne nation who was murdered in July 2013.
Garrett Sidney Wadda and Eugenia Ann Rowland were implicated in the Harris' death. The two had been living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and in the areas around Rapid City in the months leading up to and after the murder.
The Associated Press reported that investigators concluded that Wadda and Rowland had been drinking with Harris on July 3-4, 2013 near Lame Deer, Montana. There was a fight, and Rowland said she and Wadda beat Harris.
Harris’ son was 10 months old when she died. Her body was found four days later near the Lame Deer rodeo grounds. The defendants were arrested in March 2014 and sentenced to lengthy prison times last year.
According to a release the day would "commemorate the lives of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women whose cases are documented and undocumented in public records and the media."
The Department of Justice found that, in some tribal communities, American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also stated that homicide was the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women between the ages of 10 and 24. For the ages of 25-34 homicide was determined to be and the fifth leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native women.
“I am heartbroken by the recent of murder of RoyLynn Rides Horse. Tragically it’s a symptom of the greater epidemic of tribal women who go missing and are murdered at staggering rates,” said Daines, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “We are ringing the alarm to this devastating epidemic.”
Senator Jon Tester who has been a staunch advocate for tribes in Washington also expressed concern.
“It is critical that we shed more light on the hardships that Native women and their families often face,” said Tester, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “But words must be followed up with actions, and I am committed to working with the Montana Congressional delegation and Montana tribes to increase the safety of Native women and ensure they have every opportunity to thrive.”
U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke also introduced a companion resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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The National Congress of American Indians expressed support for the efforts create the day of awareness.
“The National Congress of American Indians supports the Montana delegation’s efforts to bring attention to those Native women and girls who have been murdered or are missing throughout Indian Country. We are hopeful that this awareness day will start a much-needed dialogue on what we can all do collectively to ensure our Native women and girls are afforded the safety that they deserve.”
(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at email@example.com)
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