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4th Wisconsin Indigenous Riders' MMIW, MMIP, Opioid Awareness Ride begins

Wisconsin Indigenous Riders

Today kicks off the Wisconsin Indigenous Riders’ 4th Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women and People and Opioid Awareness Ride.

In Wisconsin, Native people, women in particular, are trafficked, abused, and murdered by non-Native people at extraordinarily high rates.

Simultaneously, Native communities have been hit hard by theopioid epidemic and many loved ones have passed.

The Wisconsin Indigenous Riders, a group for Native motorcyclists, wants to raise awareness and funds for both causes.

This is their fourth year holding the Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women and People and Opioid Awareness Ride.

They were inspired by rides that raised awareness for MMIW in South Dakota and North Dakota.

Bruce LaMere is the President of Wisconsin Indigenous Riders.

“Due to COVID, many rides were closed, shut down. So we talked among ourselves, and we decided that, you know, we could do our own ride,” he explained.

They connected with Wisconsin’s MMIW task force and reached out to families with missing and murdered loved ones.

Riders carry red ribbons with the names of missing and murdered people and purple ribbons for opioid awareness.

The ride will start at Lac Vieux Desert Casino tomorrow (June 21st) and end at the Bad River Casino on the 22nd, with stops in Lac du Flambeau, Lac Courte Oreilles, and more.

All the proceeds will be directed towards other community organizations, like the Boys and Girls Club.

“Every stop and every place that we stopped at, we don't really receive the funds, we turn them back into the communities,” explained LaMere.

As they ride through different communities, they connect with people grieving losses from opioids and violence.

At each stop, speakers open up about how these issues have impacted their lives.

“We also hear some success stories about people that have beat the demons or have successfully been battling with demons. But we also have speakers that talk about the promise that sometimes is out there too, that people need to hear,” he said.

This is Martin Reinhardt, one of the riders.

“We actually ride to the housing areas, and the people come out, the children, the family members come out and wave. So as the bikes are thundering through the neighborhoods, there's people that just come out, line up and wave to us to show their support and appreciation,” he said.

Reinhardt is also a vocalist and songwriter for Waaweyiyaa, an Indigenous rock group that is performing tonight at 7:30pm at the Northern Waters Casino Resort at a free benefit concert for the ride.

Their music is all original and all Indigenous.

“We really like to promote the idea of decolonizing and revitalizing our Indigenous communities, righting the wrongs, so you know our music is a mix. My cousin calls it ‘tribal progressive’. And it's really a mix of, like Danny said, rock and roll, little blues, little country, little protest music, in there, you can find pretty much any type of music in there,” he said.

Registration costs $25 and the ride is open to everyone.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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