Emily Blue Bird, a 24-year-old mother of two was found dead in January 2016 after going missing on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota earlier in the month. Two people have since been charged in connection with her murder. The miniature dress shown here represents Blue Bird's Lakota name, which was Wicahpi Sakowin Win (Seven Stars Woman), and other missing and murdered sisters. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Mary Annette Pember: Little data on missing and murdered Native women and girls

"It's not a secret — we all know people," an advocate for Native women once said of the large numbers of missing and murdered sisters. But as Mary Annette Pember reports on Rewire.News, we still don't have concrete data on the issue:
For the second year in a row, the U.S. Senate has declared May 5 the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. Montana Sen. Steve Daines (R), along with several co-sponsors, introduced the resolution to honor Hanna Harris, a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe of Montana who went missing in 2013 and was later found raped and murdered. Harris’ birthday is May 5.

Although it is seemingly a newly discovered epidemic by political leaders and legacy media, the tragedy of missing and murdered Native women and girls has gone on for generations. Carmen O’Leary, coordinator of the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains in South Dakota, told Rewire.News in a previous article, “It happens all the time in Indian Country.”

Confounding elected officials and advocates is the actual size of the crisis, along with widespread confusion about how law enforcement agencies are gathering—and should gather—basic data on the number of missing Native women. So little is known about existing protocols for reporting missing Native women and girls or the process for collecting current data that recommendations for ways to improve accuracy have been vague.

Data provided by federal, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, as well as ad hoc volunteer organizations and politicians, vary wildly. The National Missing and Unidentified Person’s System (NAMUS) currently lists 102 reported cases of missing Native American women. Other databases list as many as 5,712 cases.

Read More on the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: On National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women, Here’s What We Don’t Know (Rewire.News May 4, 2018)

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