Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Montana journalism school project and Canadian inquiry put spotlight on violence against Native American women

University of Montana School of Journalism graphic illustration for this year's Native News reporting package
In the past three years, 671 Native American women have gone missing and/or been murdered in the U.S., according to an impressive news package from the University of Montana School of Journalism. The real number is likely much higher, since the data is often poorly collected by federal, state and tribal governments.

The disappearances and deaths "are not just numbers or data to be formed into graph lines, but women’s lives ended or hanging in the limbo of disappearance. The 2019 Montana Native News Project investigates the complex crisis of Native American women disappearing in Montana, who they leave behind and how communities are trying to address the issue," write the project editors and advisers. The school covers the Native communities in the state and produces an annual report.

Women, especially women of color, continue to suffer worldwide because of trauma and inequality, but Native American women are on the forefront of confronting the issue, the editors write. The Sovereign Bodies Institute, which worked with the journalism students on the project, began raising awareness about it by creating a database of missing and murdered indigenous women.

The issue is receiving increasing attention in Canada, too. Human rights abuses against indigenous women and girls have led to violence that amounts to genocide, according to a years-long government inquiry that released its findings Monday. The report of more than 1,000 pages also highlights violence against LGBT+ indigenous people, is "the conclusion of more than two years of research involving at least 2,380 people who shared their stories or artwork with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls," Merrit Kennedy reports for NPR.

The report recommends many actions to end the violence. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who ordered the inquiry, promised to develop a plan for meaningful action, Kennedy reports.

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