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Sokaogon Chippewa Community walks for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People

Tribal members across Northern Wisconsin wore red Thursday to raise awareness about missing and murdered indigenous women. May 5 marks a National Day of Awareness for that issue.

More than four out of every five indigenous women report violence in their lifetime, according to a study by the National Institute of Justice.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rank murder as the third leading cause of deathamong the population. The murder rate for women living on reservations is ten times higher than the national average.

It’s a severe problem that has gone unnoticed for too long, says Ryan Randall, the president of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community’s cultural committee.

“There’s not enough awareness. That’s why we need to get this out there and let people know that we are together fighting this,” he says. “These are our brothers and sisters that are missing and murdered and we’re trying to bring them home.”

Randall helped organize SCC’s second annual walk to raise local awareness about missing and murdered indigenous women.

Participants in the walk wore red. Randall says the color represents love and loss, but tribal members also believe red is the only color spirits can see, so the color is meant to guide them home.

The issue is a personal one for tribal members like Gloria Toyebo.

“Last year, I actually experienced this. One of my cousins had gone missing,” she says. “It doesn’t really hit home until it happens to you and your family.”

Toyebo’s cousin was found a month after she went missing, but many others are not.

That’s why Toyebo walks – to bring justice to the people and families affected.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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