mmiwsanfrancisco Members of the Indigenous community and allies gathered at City Hall in San Francisco, California for National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women on May 5, 2021. Photo: Morning Star Gali / Emma Snuggs / Indigenous Justice
No more stolen sisters
Monday, June 7, 2021

One issue that is in the hearts and minds of Native people today is the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). 

I attended a recent event at City Hall in San Francisco, California. It was a cold windy day, but there were many Native women in attendance, representing many from tribes in the west and southwest.  They stood in solidarity in their traditional Plains-style ribbon skirts and at different points in the gathering did the traditional Lakota tremelo. 

That distinctive Lakota women’s tremolo that is produced through a wavering effect that once turned the head of a president of the U.S. Some musical instruments like an organ or an electric guitar can produce that effect. 

But, it is distinctly Lakota.   It has a whole story behind it; things we Lakota are not so quick to share because of the “pan-Indian” taking of our traditions.

The event I attend was advertised on social media. The flyer distributed at the event was titled “Justice for our MMIW:  No More Stolen Sisters.” Although it was on a Wednesday, in early May, there were many Native women present. 

It was a “National Missing and Murdered Relatives Awareness Day.” The call was for Native people to attend; calling all “Indigenous Dancers, Drummers & Singers.” It was “In loving remembrance of Jessica Alva and all of our stolen relatives”.

When the event began there was a welcome and opening prayer by Native people in the San Francisco Bay area. The heart of the event came from words of the families of MMIW or “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives” (MMIR). 

I can only share the words I heard spoken by Jessica Alva’s mother and her sister; as well as words and a song shared by a relative.  As well as the grief expressed by the mere presence of her children who were there but did not speak.

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