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Dozens walk in Mole Lake to raise awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women

Four out of five Native American women experienced some form of violence in their lifetime.

Friday was Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Awareness Day.

Tribal and community members gathered in Mole Lake Friday to remind people those women are more than just a statistic.

It’s part of a national movement to raise awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.

Dozens of people from infants in their strollers to elders in their wheelchairs wear bright red shirts that read “No More Stolen Sisters.”

They’re gathered in front of the Dinesen Log House in Mole Lake for the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Walk.

Gloria Toyebo is the person who first brought the MMIW Walk to the Sokaogon Chippewa Community three years ago.

She wanted to do something in her community after her cousin in Oklahoma went missing for a month.

“Luckily, she was recovered. She was one of the lucky ones that got a second chance. I had heard of MMIW in Native Country for a long time. It didn’t hit home until I saw my cousin’s face on the flyer. That’s when you really understand the trauma and tragedies that these people’s families go through,” said Toyebo.

After smudging everyone, a prayer, and a song from the drum circle everyone began marching through Mole Lake.

More than 30 students joined the adults. This year, Crandon High School students from the Anishinaabe Leadership Circle sold t-shirts and called on people to wear red to help raise awareness.

“They contacted us and our homeschool coordinator coordinated with all the younger kids to come and share it because a lot of them, they’re young, they don’t know about it yet. They’re going to grow up and they’re going to face these dangers too and they’re also going to protect each other and stand up for each other,” said Toyebo.

According to the National Crime Information Center, 5,712 American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls were reported missing in 2016 alone, but only 116 of those cases were logged with the Department of Justice.

Toyebo hopes that everyone that drove by them on their walk and saw their bright red shirts and signs will do what they can to help end the violence against Native women and girls.

“We’re just trying to survive and come together. It’s unity. Without women, there would be no more because we give birth. We’re the vessel from the creator to the earth. We’ve got to protect each other.”

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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