The Center for Native American Studies collaborated with the social work department in order to bring about the “Walking the Path Together” program which has led to the creation of NMU’s first “Walk for Justice” virtual event. The event hopes to allow individuals to bring about awareness and action in regards to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The virtual event will take place in the month of May. It will include several prizes and a potential art installation on NMU’s campus.
Statistically, Native American women are 10 times more likely to face murder and in 2016 there were around 5,712 reported cases of missing Native women and girls. Only 116 of them were entered in the department of justice’s database. CNAS and the WPT program have hopes that an event like this will help bring awareness about MMIW.
“We are refusing to be silenced. We’re choosing to be their voice to bring awareness about our sisters, our mothers, our aunties that have been wrongfully stolen from us. There are people looking for them; their loved ones are looking for them,” Amber Morseau, director of CNAS said. “This is the way we are trying to get the community invested into the reason why our women and our people are going missing.”
The “Walk for Justice” event, while not the first-ever walk for MMIW, is the first of its kind here at NMU. It is a purely virtual event, which allows participants to utilize their own time and log the miles they walk. Throughout the month of May, the WPT Facebook page will post weekly walking challenges. Participants are encouraged to follow along with the challenges and share their experiences on the page.
“There is no better time than now to take action and create a future that we all want to see … and that we all want to live in. I think that people are going to learn through their own self-reflection, own self-awareness through this event that there are big and small steps they can take daily to do that,” Sierra Ayres, program coordinator of WPT and member of Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, said.
Ayres also spoke briefly about a possible art installation that included painted red rocks earned by participants that would eventually fill up into the shape of the classic MMIW red hand. Similarly, the design that the event utilized for their T-shirt and poster also utilized the commonly known symbol. The illustration was made by Reese Carter, junior illustration and Native American Studies major.
“When you’re just reading about statistics it’s easy for it to not feel real … for it to not really feel like something you need to care about because you’re detached from it. Especially if you’re not a member of a community affected by this,” Carter said. “I thought it would be good to draw a person because these are real people who are affected by this. These are not just numbers in someone’s essay.”
Those who wish to register for the event, click here. The same form is used if you want to only purchase a T-shirt. The proceeds from purchasing the 13$ T-shirts go to support a local MMIW chapter.