The lack of accounting for missing and murdered Indigenous people in the United States is being called a “data crisis” by the National Institute of Justice.
But, according to Sandra Bercier with First Nations Women’s Alliance, the abduction and killing of Indigenous women and children is not just an issue in the U.S., it’s a continental issue.
She said now that Canada has stepped up awareness and programs to help solve the problem, it’s become a bigger discussion in the U.S. and Mexico, too.
Although we don’t have the statistics to understand the full scale, North Dakota Congresswoman Ruth Buffalo said Native women are 10 times more likely to be murdered than the average American.
Bercier said poverty and a lack of law enforcement on reservations allow Native American women to become targets.
A spokesperson for the family of a woman currently missing on the Standing Rock reservation said part of the problem is the dehumanizing of Native American culture.
“When you dehumanize a person it’s easier to hurt them because you don’t see them as a human, you don’t see them as a mother, as an auntie, as a grandma, as a daughter. You just see them as a thing you can take and you can hurt,” shared Sheridan McNeil, spokesperson for the family of Kara Lynn Mauai.
Representative Buffalo added, “You see something, say something. Use the existing structures within the community.”
“Not only if you see something, say something. You have to do something. You can’t stand by with a camera,” explained Bercier.
McNeil calls this an epidemic, and one that’s been present since the first point of contact.
Representative Buffalo said North Dakota took big strides with the legislation in 2019 meant to better law enforcement, hotels and schools. But there is still a lot of work left to be done.