On Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day, world leaders and activists are uniting in a call to end violence against Indigenous women.
In the United States, Friday is Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. In Canada, today marks the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, also known as Red Dress Day.
Between 1980 and 2012, Canada's federal police found that almost 1,200 Indigenous women had been murdered or gone missing. In 2019, a National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls said that the violence epidemic “amounts to a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples.”
In the United States, the murder rate for women living on reservations is ten times higher than the national average, and is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women, according to the CDC.
In his statement today, President Biden outlined said that his administration was "working to address the underlying causes of violence, from human trafficking to longstanding economic disparities, systemic racism, historical trauma, and the need for services to address substance use disorders."
In 2022, Biden reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, expanding the jurisdiction of tribal courts to give them the ability to prosecute non-Native perpetrators who commit crimes against Native people on tribal land. He added that his administration is "investing in shelters and rape crisis centers on Tribal lands, housing and legal assistance for survivors, and trauma-informed training that helps law enforcement and courts be more responsive."
"For the thousands of families who have lost or are still looking for a friend or loved one, I know this day is full of purpose and pain. Know that your fight to cast light on these injustices has already saved lives," Biden continued. "Our Government has a solemn obligation to ensure that every case of a missing or murdered Indigenous person is met with swift, effective action to finally bring justice and healing. Together, we will get that done."